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Winter 2017-18 tenkaraangler.com

WINTER 2017-18

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Front Cover: Melissa Alcorn Back Cover: Michael Agneta Logo Design: Nick Cobler


Photo: Isaac Tait

From The Editor Happy New Year!

It's finally done! While it took a heck of a lot longer than I had hoped, I'm happy to finally be able to present the Winter issue of Tenkara Angler.

But that's not all... Interested in a good book? There's a whole bookshelf of suggestions waiting for you inside courtesy of Anthony Naples.

With the cold weather and short days upon us, a lot of anglers tend to retire their rods for a bit, and take up other fishing-related activities. Keeping that in mind, this issue of Tenkara Angler contains a lot to keep a fisherperson busy, even if you're not on the water.

Last but not least, Adam Klagsbrun took the time to outline several exercises one can use to make themself "Tenkara Fit." With all the eating I did over the holidays, I know I'll be giving them a try. (Disclaimer: Please consult a physician before hitting the gym)

If you're into fly tying, there's a special section devoted to kebari craft, with 5 different featured fly tyers (Robb Chunco, Bart Lombardo, Jason Sparks, Sam Larson, & Stephen Myers) and step by step instructions on how to tie one of their favorite patterns.

But wait, there's more! As with other issues, there are some wonderful essays, art, photography, poetry, destination reporting, and even our first reader response to a prior issue's article.

If fly tying isn't your thing, but you like DIY projects, Adam Rieger was kind enough to show in great detail how to construct your own tenkara tamo (net).

In the end, I think you'll find a very diverse issue of Tenkara Angler, one that may just be bookmarked for reference again in the future.

Michael Agneta Editor In Chief




Do you want to contribute to the next issue of Tenkara Angler? Tenkara or conservation-themed articles, essays, y tying recipes, gear reviews, tips, tricks, & photography are all fair game!

See www.tenkaraangler.com for more information


American Genryu


Jay Johnson

Due to the compact and minimal nature of Tenkara, it lends itself well to combining activities like hiking, biking, climbing, and backpacking. For people coming from the backpacking and ultralight communities, Tenkara instantly made sense from a logistical point of view. The effectiveness of the long rod, light line method was an unexpected bonus to many. As the Tenkara obsession grew, it was no longer the idea of doing your favorite activity + Tenkara, but rather a synthesis of these activities to create something all its own - an interdisciplinary approach to the backcountry. Information became


translated and readily available, with stories of Genryu starting to emerge. Some people in America were already doing it, while others were captivated by it. It was that moment, where the concept of American Genryu started to form. Japanese Genryu The Japanese word “Genryu” translates to English, as headwaters. Whether you call it headwaters, blue lines or “cricks,” Genryu doesn’t necessarily translate strictly to one of these definitions. For a group of hardcore anglers in Japan, Genryu means much more than the source waters of a watershed. For them, it means

the remote streams in the mountains furthest from any road, whose only access is by foot through thick forests, steep climbs/descents, wading, swimming and sometimes technical rope work. To put it simply, adventure. This is the heart of Genryu for both Japan and America. Wet Wading North America has a broad, varied geographical landscape. In this aspect, not all Genryu will require wet wading, but if you find yourself in the type of environment pictured on the prior page, expect to get wet. It is in these conditions, where the Japanese method of wet wading is a foundation for American Genryu. Regular waders will not cut it. They will either get trashed or slow you down. The alternative is neoprene socks and gaiters (spats). Gaiters play a key role in not only insulating but streamlining your legs for better hydrodynamics in the water. As for wading shoes, we’re not talking KEENS, either. You want a wading shoe that is flexible and light enough for long miles on trail, while providing proper traction on slick rocks, in and out of water.


In Japan, lightweight wading boots and sawanobori (shower climbing) shoes are readily available. Wading boots found in US fly shops are often too stiff, extremely heavy, and poorly designed. To get your hands on quality footwear, you either have to special order from Japan or find domestic alternatives, like Five Ten or Astral. Proper footwear combined with neoprene socks and gaiters create a lightweight

setup and doesn’t hold you back. This style of wet wading has proven itself for maximum efficiency in an environment that requires brutal hikes, wading in swift currents, swimming, and fishing long hours in cold mountain streams. Ultralight Backpacking Another foundation for American Genryu is ultralight backpacking. Now, I expect some people to be triggered by this but bear with me. I’m not talking about some arbitrary pack weight, but the philosophy behind it. A lighter, less voluminous pack allows one to travel further and faster, as well as maintaining balance in perilous situations expected in the backcountry. To achieve a smaller, lighter pack you don’t need all the latest and greatest exotic materials for clothing and gear, although they certainly do help. What is more important, is how you choose your gear. Everything must be justifiable and the more uses it has, the better. Leave your camp chair at home. Instead, bring a sit pad that can be used as support for a frameless pack, converted into a pillow, used to fan a fire and most importantly to sit on. Instead of bringing a decked-out broomstick as a wading staff, use a trekking pole that will help you up and down steep grades, can be used as a wading staff as well as structural support for a shelter. Multi-use gear goes a long way in trimming weight and volume. The finer details of ultralight backpacking techniques for Genryu fishing is worthy of a dedicated article of its own. The main takeaway for now, is that in order to get where you need to be, you’re going to leave the glamping items behind.


Tenba Genryu trips do not require a group of people - it was Yuzo Sebata after all, that popularized the style by spending weeks at a time in the mountains by himself. However, a big part of Genryu is about the shared experience, which is where Tenba (camp-site) comes in.


Genryu camp is all about the camaraderie of your fishing buddies, enjoying yourselves after an exhausting day of trekking and fishing. Counter to the ultralight philosophy previously mentioned, this is where you might carry some extra weight in luxury food items as well as drinks. It’s all about enhancing the


experience and having a blast with friends around a campfire. American Genryu Remote mountain streams, wet wading, ultralight backpacking and tenba are all part of American Genryu. It is a Japanese concept with our own twist, while remaining true to its roots. It is more than just fishing. It is the convergence of wild landscapes, friendship and adventure. If you would like to delve deeper into the topic, stop by the “Headwaters“ Facebook group. It is there, where you can find discussions and trip reports dedicated to Genryu and headwaters.

Triple Trepidation Nick Pavlovski

It was three firsts as I stood on the fallen tree, fumbling to get the 6X tippet threaded through the eye of the hook. My first time so far up this river. My first time using a beetle pattern. My first time using these homemade beetle patterns that I’d modified from one of Tim Flagler’s designs. Will it work? I wondered. I mean, will it float and do everything properly? Will it be successful? Or is this a waste of my time and I should just rely on a light-coloured shop-bought Stimulator? After a few more attempts, the tippet was threaded and the fly was knotted tightly. A brown foam body over wrappings of peacock herl, with rubber legs and a strike indicator. I’d brushed nail hardener on the brown foam to make it glossy, like a real beetle carapace. To the hook I tied a dropper with a peacock herl nymph attached. I readied my level line and the Tenkara Times 300Z rod, and commenced casting. Nothing happened in the first pool. Half a dozen good casts but no reaction, no strike, no sip, not even a swirl or flash underneath. Trying to maintain my now deflating enthusiasm and hope, I moved through the pool and over the fallen logs into the next pool. One fallen tree lined the left side of the river with a branch sticking out into the current, causing a nice little whirlpool where the branch joined the trunk. A perfect lie for one, if not maybe two fish. I cast to the side of the


whirlpool closest to me and held my breath. Nothing happened. Another cast to the same spot. Nothing. I took a slow, careful footstep forward, letting my foot slowly press down onto the gravel, conscious that my rock fisherman spikes would scrape against the rocks and make a racket underwater that might spook the residents of that whirl pool. When I was ready, I cast again, a perfect cast to the far side of the whirlpool…for no result. I cast again. Both flies, hopper and dropper hit the tree on the side and tumbled into the slow reverse current. After a moment, a silvery pair of lips and snout appeared and my brown foam beetle disappeared. I raised my rod at a firm, medium pace, and began to feel the jerking at the end of the line – and knew I was on. After releasing the fish, I looked at the beetle. It had a good set of teeth marks across its back that would be there forever. And I felt great.


Brookies and Beer John-Paul Povilaitis



Everyone Gets A Trophy? Bill Holleran



I’ve been teaching a lot of anglers how to use tenkara this season. When I tell people that you can use tenkara for all types of fresh water species, I’m often asked what my favorite is. I think people are surprised at my answer. Most of the time they are expecting me to say something like “trophy” size rainbow or brown trout in the rivers of western Massachusetts. But in reality, I’d rather be fishing for native or wild brook trout all over New England. Whether I’m fishing the thinnest blue line or a raging river, to me nothing beats landing a native brook trout. This summer I spent a weekend in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with some friends and had the best time fishing some really small brooks and streams that could only be accessed by hiking trails. We


parked the truck at a trailhead just above Lincoln, NH and hiked down a trail to a beautiful brook. The brook had ice-cold water running over a lot of rocks and boulders. The water was crystal clear and was only a foot or so deep. There were several pools along the brook that were several feet deep. The bottom of the brook was mostly gravel and sand that made the water look like cream soda. Approaching the brook required some stealthy tactics so as not to spook the brook trout. At a distance it looked like this brook wasn’t holding any fish at all. Truth is they had a lot of structure to hide under and only made appearances when food was floating by. So we rigged up some beefy attractor flies and dropped some tiny wet

flies below using the first fly as an indicator. It didn’t take us long to see some results. Casting upstream and letting the flies dead drift downstream immediately drew some brookies out from under the rocks. It was quite the sight, looking into the clear water and watching these beautiful trout appear from the shadows and take the wet flies. The attractor or indicator fly was very helpful in following your line as the sun was beaming down and reflecting off the rocks.



I caught a pretty little brook trout on the very first cast. My friend Mike, who I’ve been teaching tenkara, headed up stream to a great spot under a bridge. He caught the biggest brook trout of the day, probably measuring about 8 inches in length. But we weren’t concerned with catching trophy size fish, we we’re looking for native brookies that survive with no help from man. They say if the water is holding these fish then it’s a great sign that the surrounding environment is doing well. Kind of like the canary in the coal mine. Now is a good time to mention that some of our native fish need our help. There are some great native fish advocacy groups that are mostly funded and served by

volunteers. In New England, we have the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition and the Native Fish Coalition. The SRBTC concentrates its efforts on restoring and improving the habitats of the famous Salters, or sea run brook trout, and have made tremendous strides in the waters of southern Massachusetts. The Native Fish Coalition is a new group that is concentrating its efforts on New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. I urge all anglers to support these and other advocacy groups so that future generations will be able to experience these beautiful fish. So do I enjoy casting a fly to some trophy size fish in the Y-pool of the Swift River hoping to land that big fish and take a great picture? Of course I do; but nothing beats the feeling of hiking through the woods to a remote little brook and seeing a native brook trout appear from the shadows to chomp a fly, knowing that this fish is the descendant of fish that have been here for hundreds of years. So next time you’re headed out to wet a line, maybe skip the trophy fish and head out to a remote brook or stream and get lost in the moment looking for that special little fish with the awesome colors, because native brookies are where it’s at.


Now Go Out And Have Fun, Damn It!!! Chris Hendriks


This is a follow up article from the Fall 2017 issue of Tenkara Angler written by John Vetterli called "Tenkara Traditions: Are They Important?" He made a very important point, and I quote: “I hope everyone is out there enjoying tenkara in a way that they love and establishing their own personal, family and community tenkara traditions. Because that is the heartbeat and soul that will keep the sport living on for generations to come.” Now why would I want to make a follow up article on this? Did he not basically say it all? Yes, he did, in a very polite way if I may add. But unfortunately, I do not think we as a tenkara community see the seriousness of it all. Over the past few years, people have divided themselves


into two camps as John described. Pure, Japanese tenkara as they call it as one, and using a tenkara rod as a tool, the other. The latter also called hybrid tenkara or now more and more, American tenkara. What does that mean? Now, there are basically 3 ways of fishing tenkara, generally taken. I will name them for you and explain them a little bit as well, so we better understand the differences. (There are numerous other ways to fish with a tenkara rod, but these are the most common and I have experience with all three). Pure Tenkara Pure tenkara can be described as using level and/or tapered nylon lines, preferably unweighted sakasa kebari, and the Japanese fishing methods in high-

gradient mountain streams. The advantage is that we can keep all the line out of the water and are in total control of the fly. All the flies are basically fished wet, but we decide how deep we fish them, how much movement we incorporate, and if we want to fish it as a dry fly, but without the floatant. The more skill you have, the more techniques you can use to catch the fish you are after. Hybrid Tenkara Hybrid tenkara allows for many tactics usually associated with fly rod & reels. It means dry flies, wet flies and dropper rigs are often used with level lines or braided/ furled lines. But they are also very effective with normal floating lines. (Nymphs as well, but we come to that later). Now this has through the years developed itself enormously. There are a lot of lines available for this method, and each line is good for a certain technique and circumstance. We have level lines that are perfect for dry fly fishing and dropper rigs. You are still in absolute control of the fly and you can present the dry fly completely without any drag. But you can also let your dry flies jump a little bit mimicking a fly that flies away but fails, or a caddis that is laying its eggs. This still looks a lot like pure tenkara. We also have the braided, or furled lines that are a little easier to cast through the wind. A lot of people use them for dry fly fishing and dropper rigs. The disadvantage is that you can’t keep the line off the water as easily as a level line since it is a bit heavier. But the choice between a level line and braided line is still a very personal


choice. The advantage that we have here is still that we can keep a lot of line of the water and are possess a huge amount of control over the fly. Now we have a hugely debated typical American type of line left. Floating lines. The techniques that you use are not any different from normal Western fly fishing and you can’t keep the line of the water. Why use it then? Aren’t all the advantages from tenkara gone? Why not just fish with a normal fly rod? Now this is quite simple if you think about it a little longer. No false casting, extremely precise casting, quicker landing of the fish which is much better for the fish, the great feeling and thrill that you get when fighting a fish with a tenkara rod. When there is a lot of wind on those big open rivers you can also cast easier to those fish with a normal fly line and… Don’t forget that there are still a lot of people very skeptical towards tenkara, so if they get a chance to fish with a tenkara rod but still use their own lines and techniques with all the above-mentioned advantages, do you have any idea what kind of impact that has on them? And don’t forget how easy it is, after using their own techniques on a tenkara rod, to make the step to perhaps, pure tenkara? It doesn’t sound so silly any more, now does it? Tactical Nymphing Tactical nymphing, which uses a level line from bass fishing with a strike indicatorline and two to three nymphs. The nymphs are as low profile as possible to get down very quickly to the acquired depth.


Now this way of fishing has nothing to do with tenkara or hybrid tenkara but uses basically three huge advantages of the tenkara rod. The length, the sensitivity, and landing the fish quicker in the net because you are in total control during the fight, if properly done. Because the rod gives you these advantages, the method becomes highly effective. What do all these ways of fishing with a tenkara rod have in common? A tenkara rod, a fixed line, no false casting, precise casting, shorter fights, and the thrill and excitement we all get when catching a fish on a tenkara rod. Now all of these are very valid advantages. Each way of fishing with a tenkara rod that I mentioned has its own advantages during certain circumstances. And we all love our own personal type of fishing with a tenkara rod. The last few years increasingly more companies have entered the tenkara market. They all stand out in their own specific way. Some develop rods, some develop lines, some are offering guided trips, and some people just like organizing events where we as a community come together and can enjoy our hobby. I have been fishing tenkara for 7 seasons, guiding tenkara for 6 seasons, founded and co-organized the European Tenkara Convention for 5 seasons, attended the Oni school, took lessons from Discover Tenkara for a week, and I visited the very first Tenkara Summit and the most recent Tenkara Summit in 2017. During all these years, activities and events I have met many different companies and their founders personally and let me tell you



one thing…. No one, and I mean literally no one did not know the origin of pure tenkara. They all possess a certain basic, core knowledge of pure tenkara. Now why am I telling you this? My personal view is that a basic knowledge about pure tenkara is fundamental to find your way of fishing with a tenkara rod. It is important to see where we came from and to understand that, before you do anything else. Then, when we find our own way of using a tenkara rod, we are completely justified and in our right to do so. Now I also think there should be a standard or a certain red line where define the differences between tenkara and fixed line fishing. But that is my personal view and a completely different discussion. When we as a community started out with tenkara we were the underdog within fly fishing. We were a small group that had fun fishing tenkara together, sharing knowledge together, gathering at events together and enjoyed each other’s company. Now that we are growing in numbers, different companies have emerged that appeal to different people within the tenkara community. The thing that we had in common, all of us, is that we all loved our own way of fishing with a tenkara rod. Why am I writing in the past tense? We are still doing all of this but the discussions about how people use their tenkara rod is

getting bigger and bigger. Just have a read on Facebook, all the hate, discussions, and disapproval, it is not funny anymore! The tenkara community was a very nice group but more and more people are starting to determine for other people how to fish, how to have fun. People need to finally realize that it is still just fishing, although it is for some a lifestyle and for some a job and a way of income, but for the most of us it is just a hobby. A way of having fun. Who is going to determine how I have fun? Nobody but me, right? It is still up to the individual to determine what he or she thinks is fun. If we don’t realize this, we are going back in time where all fly fishers had to fish according to the norms of F.M. Halford. People like G.E.M. Skues and Frank Sawyer were not very popular during their days when they published their books and openly said that they fished in a very different way. But does that mean that we as tenkara anglers need to make the same mistakes? If somebody is fishing in a way that the majority does not approve of does that make it wrong? Absolutely not. Do I like using floating fly lines on a tenkara rod? No I don’t, BUT... I am open to listen to other people’s opinions and to realize that it has its place. I even tried it to see what it was all about and used it to see if their arguments were true or not. And yes, it definitely has its place. The same with nymphing, you can’t imagine nymphing not being a part of fly fishing any more, it has its place. Do I


really like nymphing? No, I don’t. The most beautiful take for me is on a dry fly imitation and a fish jumping completely out of the water and engulfing it. But can I fish like this the whole time? No, I use the method that I find is the most effective at that particular place under the given circumstances to catch a fish. That is just me. And just like that is just me, each and every one of us has their own way of having fun with a tenkara rod. Do you need to like all these ways? Absolutely not, but please people, respect that other people have other ways of having fun with a tenkara rod and have an open mind. Or else we will be the ones that are judging ourselves, the die-hard western fly fishermen are already doing a good job at that as it is, so why should we? If Lefty Kreh, one of the greatest casting instructors who once called tenkara ‘a fad’, can change his mind and be open to what all the fuss is about with tenkara. He even visited one of our events to learn more about it, why can’t we among ourselves be more open to how other people use their tenkara rod to have fun? Now I leave you with the quote from John Vetterli that we started out with; “I hope everyone is out there enjoying tenkara in a way that they love and establishing their own personal, family and community tenkara traditions. Because that is the heartbeat and soul that will keep the sport living on for generations to come.”



The Three Rivers Tenkara Bookshelf


Anthony Naples

Wintertime is book time in my mind. There was an era when I did a lot of winter fishing, but I seem to have grown out of that phase for the most part. I’ll get out fishing from time to time in the bleak midwinter months, but mostly I’m content to stay home and catch up on some reading and fly tying. In this time of a seemingly infinite number internet pages and YouTube videos, good old physical books may seem old fashioned, but I still love them. And I don’t think it’s just nostalgia. Books provide cohesive thoughts and completeness in a way that the internet does not. The internet is okay when you know what you’re looking for. But when it comes to novel ideas and new knowledge the problem can be that you don’t know what you don’t know… so how do you go looking for it? And often what you find online is just one small piece of the picture. It is not a complete narrative or a complete thesis. It can be scattered and fragmentary and confusing. Not to mention that the internet can be a mind-altering time suck that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. You start at 6:00 PM looking for that fly recipe and suddenly it’s 1:00 AM and you’re watching videos of Snoop Dogg narrating nature films while you eat an entire row of Oreos. Books though, draw you in in a different way. You can become immersed in them – but it is a mindful immersion that



stimulates the grey matter rather than turning it to goop. Over the course of a book, a good author takes you on a wellplanned journey that conveys his message in a thoughtful and meaningful way. I know with the good fly fishing or fly tying books that I own, I revisit them over and over. It is nearly impossible to remember it all. With each perusal, or re-reading I discover something new, or perhaps I finally have gained the experience to fully understand something, or maybe I just get reminded of a point that I had forgotten. I like books.



With that in mind here are a few from the Three Rivers Shop that might be worth your investigation this winter – and perhaps you’ll find yourself going back to them again and again.

What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and Other Myths by Bob Wyatt (2013)

I have to admit that I resisted the major tenet of this book for years, and it wasn’t until taking up tenkara that I began to see the truth of it. Bob Wyatt in this manifesto sets out to clear the air and remove from fly fishing the accumulated grime and dust

of centuries of fly fishing “knowledge”. He ruffles some expert feathers in the process as he makes a clear and convincing case against the idea of “educated” or “smart” trout and for good presentation over precise imitation. I for one have seen the light and been converted. I think that this book ought to resonate with many a tenkara angler. And even if you are not entirely sure that you agree, I think it’s probably worth a read – you may be fully convinced – or maybe only partly, but I think you’ll be better off for having read it. This quote characterizes the book pretty well: “The practical difference between the selectivist and the presentationist approaches, if hunting and catching trout are what you like most about fly fishing, is that you get to carry fewer fly boxes and spend less time worrying about fly patterns and dreaming up new ones. As in any form of hunting, success is a matter of deeper understanding of the quarry’s behavior and environment. There are plenty of expert anglers who use only one or two flies and catch as many supposedly educated trout as the guy with the cross-indexed fly box. What we have been considering here is why that should be the case.”

Nymph Masters: Fly-Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers by Jason Randall (2017)

So… yeah... not a tenkara book either (tenkara does get some favorable mentions though). But I think there are plenty of folks out there nymphing with


tenkara rods. I know I am. This book is going to have some things that are not directly pertinent to tenkara – such as specific nymphing leader recipes for western fly rod and reel. But maybe you also use a rod and reel so even that is useful to you.

This book is about fundamentals and the real value of this book to anybody that wants to nymph, whether with rod and reel or with stick and string, is the way that the author lays out what he dubs “The Problem with Nymph Fishing” and then the way that he goes on to describe the way that streams work – the hydrodynamics – and how that effects both our artificial nymphs’ behavior and also the behavior of the fish (that is where to find them). In short, it’s an excellent primer in understanding the way streams flow, how to read them to find fish and understand them to deliver your flies effectively and detect strikes. It’s hard to make guarantees, and maybe you all reading this are much more knowledgeable than I (not too unlikely), but I would bet that upon reading this book you’ll have some “a-ha!” moments when you uncover some new crucial tidbit that will improve your fundamental understanding of trout angling.

The author, Jason Randall is not just relying on his own experiences, but he is tapping into the knowledge of folks like George Daniel, Landon Mayer, Lefty Kreh, Ed Jaworowski, Ed Engle, Gary Borger and Joe Humphreys. There’s also a great section with color photos and recipes of flies from these folks.


Simple Flies: Simple Flies: 52 Patterns that Catch Fish by Morgan Lyle (2015)

Morgan Lyle is one of us. He’s a tenkara guy. So, this book has got some intelligent things to say about tenkara and about the ideas of simplicity and simple flies. And it’s much more than a fly pattern book – though it is that. In Simple Flies, Morgan makes the case for simplicity in fly tying and fly selection. And he does a great job of it. It was in this book that I learned about Bob Wyatt’s book What Trout Want. If you’re looking to get into fly tying, or if you already are and are looking for plain good advice and simple, effective patterns this is a great book. (I did a Q&A with Morgan back in the 2nd Issue of Tenkara Angler magazine so go check that out.)

Keystone Fly Fishing: The Ultimate Guide to Pennsylvania’s Best Water

This book may not have the broad, fundamental appeal of the others, but hey I’m a PA guy and I need to give some props to PA fly fishing. There is a lot of great trout fishing in PA – and as most of the good trout streams are small to medium sized – much of it is prime tenkara water. So, if you’re a PA angler – or just thinking of visiting this book will get you on some good water for sure. It’s a fantastic resource for anybody that fishes in PA. You can find this required winter reading and much more at the Three Rivers Tenkara shop: www.threeriverstenkara.com


Tenkara Angler Winter Fly Tying Feature

Simple Stiff Hackle Kebari with Dubbed Body Robb Chunco

As has been pointed out by many sources (most notably by John Pearson and Paul Gaskell of Discover Tenkara/Tenkara in Focus), the reverse hackle or “sakasa” kebari is not the be all, end all tenkara fly. Many Japanese tenkara anglers and a growing number of Western tenkara anglers prefer to fish a stiff hackle kebari. I’m not going to rehash the technical details of fishing this type of pattern here, as it’s been done by others in a much more comprehensive way than I can muster. My aim here is to simply offer my take on how to tie a stiff hackle kebari. But know this: It’s an unbelievably versatile fly to have at your disposal. Fished wet or dry, high or low. Skated on the surface or held in a downstream current. Tie up a few in light and dark colors and with long and short hackle. You’ll be glad you did.



Thread: I generally prefer to use 6/0 Uni Thread for my kebari. It's available in a great range of colors and I find it to be a very strong thread. Use any color you prefer.

Hackle: Whiting 100’s. Great selection of colors, very consistent quality and very little waste. At roughly $20 a package, it’s quite a bargain. Here I’ve used a size 14 badger and barred ginger and a size 10 brown on a size 12 hook. Don’t feel compelled to match the size of the hackle to the hook.

Dubbing: Anything you like, in any color you like. I’ve used Hare’s Ear here.

Hook: Again, personal preference. But I find that a straight shanked nymph hook on the heavy side works well for patterns like these. Feel free to use a lighter wire hook if you prefer. I’ve used a size 12 Firehole 633 here.

Tying Sequence

Mount your hook in the vise and start the thread about 3 eye widths back from the eye. You're going to need to leave yourself a 4” tag of thread to hang off the back of the fly after you’ve wrapped the body - more on this in a bit. Wrap in touching turns to the very start of the hook bend (do not trim the 4” tag you’ve left yourself!) A side note -- I see far too many kebari tied with material wrapped well into the hook bend. This is unnecessary and may actually negatively affect the holding power and durability of the fly. “Less is more”. Take the thread back to the tie-in point in open turns. Tease out your dubbing by hand or fluff it in a dedicated coffee grinder in preparation of dubbing the thread. You’ll ultimately use less of it and make it easier to dub Lightly dub (and I mean LIGHTLY) a 2.5” noodle on to the thread. No dubbing wax is necessary. Take the thread toward the back in preparation of forming the body of the fly. The dubbed portion should be just at the point where your thread base begins. Continue to wrap forward with the dubbed thread, forming the body of the fly, and stop at your original tie in point. Now you’ll grab the 4” thread tag that you left yourself earlier and with nice open counter wraps, tie down and reinforce the dubbed body. I find 5 well spaced wraps to be sufficient. Tie off the thread tag at the original tie in point. The counter wraps will strengthen the fly and add some visual interest in the form of segmentation. At this point you can lightly rough up the dubbed body with an old toothbrush or dubbing brush if desired. Select a length of hackle and strip the barbs off of about 1/8”. Offer the hackle to the top of the hook with the convex side of the feather facing up, and the stem pointing toward the front. Tie the hackle in with 3-4 solid wraps. At this point you should still have the original 3 eye lengths of bare hook left to work with. Begin wrapping the hackle around the hook. It should splay out perpendicular to the hook. If the feather is long enough (and it should be if it’s from a Whiting 100 pack) you won’t need hackle pliers. I make 5 wraps toward the front and tie off the hackle with another 3-4 solid wraps. Reach in carefully with your scissors and snip off the hackle as close as you can. The hackle should look neat, but don’t be overly concerned if it’s not. We’re not tying Catskill style dries here. Sometimes the hackle will point forward a bit, and a good way to deal with this is to use a half hitch tool (or a tube from a ball point pen, or your fingers) to push them back into place while you get another thread wrap or two down to move them back into place. At this point you can build up a small head and then whip finish. A drop of head cement will complete your simple stiff hackle kebari.


Tenkara Angler Winter Fly Tying Feature

The James Wood Kebari


Bart Lombardo


When I was first asked to submit a fly for this edition of The Tenkara Angler, I started looking through my selection of tenkara flies for patterns that I felt were this past season's best producers. I removed some tenkara flies from a box that I had tied for my annual summer trout fishing trips to Montana and the mountains of North Carolina. I spread out the flies on my fly tying desk and was mentally going over the merits of each fly, trying to narrow down the selection, when a small splash of color caught my eye. Over on the corner of the desk, underneath a pile of fly tying materials, was a little blue and yellow fly that had somehow never made it into a fly box. A soon as I picked it up I knew the choice had been made! Although my favorite type of tenkara fishing involves small mountain streams for beautiful native or wild trout, I have also adopted the tenkara method for warm water fishing. Living well over an hour from my nearest trout stream means I need to pursue other species if I wish to fish often. Fortunately, the area around my home is dotted with scores of warm water lakes and ponds. These days, over half of my warm water fishing is done with a tenkara rod, especially when it involves bluegills and other panfish. A tenkara rod


and box of warm water flies permanently reside in a pocket behind my driver's seat in my truck, ready to fish at a moments notice. One of my favorite warm water flies is an unusual pattern developed on the smallmouth bass rivers of Virginia. The fly is called the James Wood Bucktail. The James Wood Bucktail is a smallmouth bass pattern created by Harry Murray. Harry, the owner of Murrays Fly Shop in Edinburg Virginia, tied the fly to imitate a baby sunfish. Murray explained that The James Wood Buck Tail was adapted from Pete Perinchief’s bonefish fly, The Horror. The James Wood Bucktail gets its name because its colors match those of a local high school sports team. While I don’t see any resemblance to a baby sunfish when I look at this fly, the fish certainly have an affinity for it. In its traditional size, it makes a great warm water pattern for bass, pickerel and larger bluegills and crappies. I most often fish the fly in a size 4 or 6 which can be a little cumbersome to cast on most tenkara rods. Last winter I shrunk the pattern down so it could easily be fished on a tenkara rod. I had to swap out a few materials to make it work since the original chenille body, and

bucktail wing would not work in the smaller proportions of the shrunken version. Taking the evolution one step further, I also created a kebari version of the pattern, which is the focus of this article. The kebari version of this fly retains the blue, yellow and white color combination that proved itself so effective on the original pattern. New materials had to utilized for kebari version, and after a bit of experimentation, I decided to keep things traditional using only thread and hackle. By using blue and yellow thread and a hackle from a white rooster neck I was able to retain the original colors of the James Wood Bucktail. I originally planned on using a white hen feather to get better movement in the water, but I stumbled upon a old Indian rooster neck that had soft webby feathers that were perfect for this fly. Because it is possible to catch dozens of fish on a single fly when fishing for bluegill and other panfish I decided to take some additional steps to create a bombproof fly. I coated the thread wraps with UV resin.


The original James Wood Bucktail

This extra step ensures that the fly will never become unraveled. My UV resin of choice is Solarez Bone Dry, which has a thin consistency that works perfectly on smaller flies and it dries entirely tack free. It also helps the fly sink a little better which is always a plus with subsurface flies. This fly has proven itself to be a very effective warm water pattern for bluegills and other sunfish. I fish the fly a little differently then the James Wood Bucktail it originated from. After casting I let the fly slowly settle towards the bottom. It seldom makes it very far without getting picked up by a fish. You will need to observe your line and tippet since a strike may only be indicated by a subtle twitch or pause in the decent. On the rare occasion that the fly is not picked up on the drop, I impart a few subtle twitches with the rod tip. I retrieve the fly be slowly raising the rod tip and then let it settle towards the bottom again until I am ready to make another cast. When the fly is in motion takes are usually quite violent, and there will be no mistaking them!

The James Wood Kebari, the perfect meal for a panfish


The James Wood Kebari Hook: Owner Tenkara size 4 (the sizing on this particular hook has no similarity to standard western hook sizes. I would compare it to a size 12 hook) Head: Blue UTC 140 denier Hackle: White rooster from an inexpensive Indian neck Body: Yellow UTC 140 denier Finish: Solarez Bone Dry UV Resin Note: The use of the heavier 140 denier thread makes creating the head and body of the fly easier (fewer thread wraps). The UV resin is an optional step, but it has its benefits. First, it creates a bombproof fly. One can expect to catch dozens of fish on the same fly when fishing for panfish and the resin coated fly is up to the challenge. Second, the use of UV resin creates a denser fly that sinks a little faster.


Create the head of the fly with the blue tying thread.

When satisfied with the shape of the head, coat the thread with UV resin and cure (optional).

Tie in the rooster hackle and wind it around the hook shank coaxing the fibers forward over the eye of the hook.

Tie off the rooster hackle, clip off the excess and whip finish and cut off blue thread.

Attach yellow thread behind the hackle and create a tapered body, whip finish and cut off thread.

Apply UV resin to yellow thread wraps and cure (optional). If using UV resin, be careful to keep it away from the hackle fibers.


Tenkara Angler Winter Fly Tying Feature

The GnarlyFly


Jason Sparks

Every creek and stream I've fished in the Appalachian Mountains chasing trout has seen this fly. It produced in South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland and in my home state of North Carolina. This fly and I have logged hundreds of hours and miles of water getting to know each other during "one fly" sessions in every month of the year. This is my "go-to" fly. How did I get to this and why does it work so well for me? It isn't any part of original that I have ever claimed. Often, I have attributed its creation and inspiration to the Shotaro kebari. You know the one that looks haphazard and like a half squished bug?


That is what I kept envisioning in my head when I started working on this pattern. As it is with most things we see in life, they are rarely virgin creations and are usually adaptations of something already existing. The other parts of this would need to go credited to Chris Stewart of Tenkara Bum for his fly known as the "Killer Kebari" and the genesis of that fly to both Frank Sawyer's "Killer Bug" and the Tenkara Guides (Rob, John and ERiK) own modernized "Utah Killer Bug." See how it doesn't seem to be so much of an original light bulb for me when I can trace those tracks back to clearly. It may just as well be a lazy tier's version of "all-of-the-above."

I guess I have developed my own variant in the blend of these flies. Since I am mostly self taught in my flycraft, I will say that the steps I'm using, right or wrong, are steps I refined. In many things I do, I strive for efficiency of motion, reduction of materials, re-use where applicable and simplicity in design. Most likely all that can be traced back to years in the US Navy and months at sea on a Nuclear Submarine trying to conserve on every little thing. I try to get three flies from one hen feather. I can tie 20 flies from a long rooster hackle. I reduce wasted yarn by calculating lengths needs for 18 wraps. I also start in my thread so tight in my fingertips that often I do have any tag to clip away, it just gets wrapped to the shaft. All that to say that these steps are my own. How do I fish it? As you can see I typically tie it up unweighted, although there are bead-head versions in my Altoids tin. I think it does amazing things in a dead drift. It is all kind of alive in the micro currents. The wool yarn body gives it some heft for a nice sink rate. It swims around in eddies with the best of them. It dances nicely on the surface of the water when you put a little tap action on your rod. This thing looks like a mid-Summer bug trying to get out of the water. I have some tied up in #10 and down into the #18's, but the #12 and #14 is a sweet size the the wild trout I was chasing in the Blue Ridge mountains. The best presentation that I know of for this fly is to get it wet.


Jason Sparks' "GnarlyFly" Hook: Allen D102BL Scud #12 Thread: Danville's 140 Waxed Flymaster +Plus+ Yarn: Jamison's Shetland Spindrift (wren, bracken, rye, oyster, black) Feather: Indian Hen or Indian Rooster (natural, gray or black)

Tying Sequence Fully wrap the hook shaft in thread and down into the bend a bit. This prevents the yarn from sliding around on the metal. I like to do two full layers across the shaft and four layers at the eye and the bend. I do this because I want the color used to stand up when it gets wet and not get transparent and fade away. Add in the yarn about one quarter of the shaft away from the eye. I tie on the yarn at the front because I like two layers for a fatter body.


Make turns with your yarn keeping the natural twist in it as you move toward the bend in the hook. I like to stop the yarn at the top of the bend as it starts to make the “body curve”. Recall that we tied the thread a bit deeper. That offers a big of a color signature of thread sticking out from beneath the yarn. Wrap that second layer of thread snug against the first and walk it back to where you started. Now a few wraps of thread over the yarn right as it falls off the front of that first layer. So when you are cinching that second wrap directly the the hookshaft. Snip off the yarn and makes some wraps to clean up the head of the fly, finishing your turns right up against the yarn body. Tie in your feather (I tie in tip first) and make one wrap around the fly body. Twist the feather one half turn and make a second wrap. Make three wraps of thread right over the feather cinching it in place. At this point you should have some feather forward and some aft of that centerline. Whip finish (or your choice of closure) and you are done. I do a double whip to tie off.


Tenkara Angler Winter Fly Tying Feature

Deer Hair Emerger Sam Larson


This deer hair emerger pattern has become my go-to dry fly here in Colorado. During the summer and fall there are almost always caddis somewhere on the water. Since caddis are such a stable source of food trout are often more than willing to strike at this fly even if there isn’t an ongoing hatch. If the conditions are right for dry flies, and in the absence of a specific hatch, this is the first fly I tie on. I learned the beginnings of this pattern from an angling friend and it has since been tweaked and altered through many, many dozens of flies. The current method of tying this fly is the result of ruining, stripping, sinking, losing, and modifying that first fly I begged off a friend. I fish small to medium sized streams and creeks in Colorado. While we have four varieties of trout in the state I most often fish for browns and rainbows since they are the predominant species in most of the easily accessible water. This pattern works for any variety of trout but has seen the most success with browns on some local streams. It’s particularly good on the town stretch of Boulder Creek on an early summer morning before the creek is filled with dogs, children, and college students. I fish this pattern as an emerger. When I


think of this fly on the water I want the curve of the scud hook to be either in or below the film, with the deer hair wing lying flat across the surface and the hackle acting as outriggers to keep the fly upright. If you need the fly to sit lower in the water, you can trim the hackle off the bottom and it will sink further in the film. Depending on the speed of the water and where you want to present the fly it can be fished as-is or heavily dressed in floatant. If I am using floatant I dress the deer hair wing and the hackle, making sure to massage the floatant into the base of the deer hair. The hackle and deer hair make this pattern buoyant enough to float a small dropper. I typically trail a size 18 or 20 WD-40 or Smokejumper-style emerger off this pattern. With a tenkara rod I try for a tight line dead drift across the surface with as little leader touching the water as possible. This pattern is particularly well suited to tenkara since the rod makes it easy to twitch and skate the fly across slow water like a natural caddis. I drop this pattern anywhere that you’d see a caddis skating on the surface, and a few other places as well. There is almost no way to fish this fly improperly as long as you are getting a good drift.

Materials Your favorite scud hook, size 16-14 (Saber #7258 shown) 6/0 Danville thread, either yellow or tan Small gold Danville Ultrawire Natural colored Comparadun deer hair Brown dry y hackle, sized to the hook gape

Tying Sequence Start the thread two eye lengths behind the hook eye. Capture the end of the wire and wrap it back to the hook bend using touching turns.

From the bend, wrap the thread forward to the starting point again, using touching turns to make a smooth thread body. Counter wrap the wire rib forward to create four or ďŹ ve evenly spaced ribs. Capture the wire and spiral it off.

(Continued, Next Page)


Select a pinch of deer hair. A trick I like to size the pinch of deer hair is to roll the pinch between your fingers into a flat fan. The fan of deer hair should be just slightly bigger than the gape of the hook that you are tying on. Clip, brush, and stack the deer hair. Tie in the deer hair where the wire wraps ended, one and a half to two eye lengths behind the hook eye. The tips of the deer hair should be even with the back of the hook’s bend. Pinch the deer hair securely on top of the hook shank. Do two loose wraps around the deer hair and then pull the thread tight. The deer hair should stay on top of the hook. Take two or three more wraps around the deer hair to secure it. I like to pass another wrap or two between the butts of the deer hair and the hook shank so the butts stay angled up away from the hook. Clip the deer hair even with the hook eye. This will leave you with a wedge-shaped head for the fly.


Tie in the hackle at the tie in point for the deer hair. Wrap four or five turns of hackle over the thread that secures the deer hair. The hackle should sit between the wing and the clipped head of the fly. Whip finish the fly. I whip finish twice, once behind the clipped deer hair head and once below the head and just behind the hook eye.


Tenkara Angler Winter Fly Tying Feature

The Jiggy Little Black Stone


Stephen Myers

The little black stone is a fly I have grown to love in the cold, lower flows that are common throughout the winter here in Colorado. Once ice starts to form on the river every night, activity slows down quite a bit in the streams across the front range. Fish go into "winter lies" behind rocks, in eddies, and deep pools. Wherever there is adequate oxygen and slow current as to not expend too much energy, an opportunistic trout awaits. Many times, I have sight fished in winter and watched my fly pass the same fish over and over, only when I had got the fly within a hair of the fish’s mouth did it strike. You may not catch as many fish in the winter as you do in summer, but the fishing is very technical, and you can improve your casting and fly presentation skills much faster when you're desperate to hook up

with a rewarding winter beauty. Enter the little black stonefly. Often overlooked, it's the first real insect productivity that happens on most streams. This pattern works extremely well when plummeted into deeper pools or bounced along through rolling riffles. The undersized tungsten bead provides weight to the fly without being cumbersome to cast with a tenkara rod. Anyone who has fished with me over the past few years knows I love to tie and fish tungsten jigs for use with my tenkara rods, for no other reason than they will produce fish in a wide variety of conditions and keep me out of the rocks and other snags. Try this fly on your next winter fishing trip. If it works, let us know on our Instagram or Facebook page - @303Flyworks


Size 14 Jig Hook

Black Goose Biots

2.8mm Black Tungsten Bead

Black Peacock Ice Dub

Black Thread - 8/0


Golden Pheasant Neck Feathers

Wrap black thread down the shank of the hook and tie in two black goose biots

Wrap up the hook towards the bead to create a body. Tie in two more black goose biots to create the thorax

Dub the thorax with black peacock ice dub

Tie in a small portion of golden pheasant neck feathers to create a "stuck wing" look

Split the golden pheasant with the black goose biots and tie them down just behind the bead. Lightly dub behind the bead and whip ďŹ nish with head cement on the thread.



Sebata-san's Kebari Tying Class: Tokyo 2017 Isaac Tait

It was a dreary and rainy day in the Kita Ward of Tokyo. I was standing outside of a pink community center watching the buses drive by and a ramen shop across the street receive a shady delivery from the back of a sedan‌ I was shivering (partially from the cold but mostly in excitement and anticipation for what lay ahead) lost in thought wondering what was in that rolled up carpet, when I heard a friendly hello from Go Ishii and Akira Matsumoto. It had been awhile since Go and I had seen each other, and it was good to catch up as well as to make a new friend, Akira. We were early, so we helped set up the room in preparation for a kebari tying event that was being taught by none


other than the tenkara legend himself Mr. Yuzo Sebata-san. There were about 16 people taking the class and we all made sure to give Sebatasan a warm welcome when he walked through the door. Sebata-san gave a nice introduction, that Go Ishii was kind enough to translate for me. He talked about how when he discovered tenkara it was not called tenkara it was called kebari tsuri (feathered needle ďŹ shing) and it was the people of Nikko and further north who began spreading the term tenkara to replace kebari tsuri. I had never heard this before and found it quite interesting. I love how the story of tenkara in Japan comes

together in bits and pieces. A bit of information from one person, another person, this region, and that; all of it melds together into story that leaves plenty of room for imagination, and maybe even a little bit of fairy tale. After the introduction Sebata-san started with his period of instruction. After the class, we were going to go off on our own and try to tie our Sebata-san styled kebari, so everyone made sure to ask plenty of questions. His style is similar to the Sakasa Kebari but with a few unique twists. First off, he uses a special double sided sticky electrical tape (Scotch 3M 23 スコッチ - 電気 絶縁用 - 自己融着テープ) to make the body of the fly, then he uses thread from a pair of woman’s pantyhose to make the kebari! He claimed you can get the pantyhose from the ¥100 shop and one pair is enough to make tens of thousands of kebari. The pantyhose comes in a rainbow of colors too, so you can make some pretty cool looking kebari.


If you are going to tie a zenmai kebari he recommended that you use brown

pantyhose. Also, I noticed that his hackle was very close to the eye of the hook as opposed to 1/3 of the way down the body which has become a bit of the norm for Japanese style kebari. In regard to the hackle he recommends only five wraps if there are more wraps the hook will have a difficult time submerging. Sebata-san also keeps all his old tissue boxes as they make perfect containers to hold scraps of thread, feathers, and zenmai. He never throws any piece away; even the scraps we would toss without a second’s hesitation he can turn into a beautiful kebari. After the period of instruction, we headed off to our seats and began tying. It was only my second time tying without a vise, but I was surprised at how much easier it was with the double sided sticky tape holding the thread. You could get a very nice wrap with the pantyhose thread too. It never looked lumpy or awkward. Still I cheated a little at the end and dabbed on a bit of cement. I had enough time to tie up three kebari; a zenmai, one with a peacock herl, and a real janky one that will still catch fish... before we had to pack up the


Photo: Go Ishii

Sebata-san's secret ingredient - Pantyhose!


room and head on over to an “all you can eat and drink for two hours” izakaya just down the street from the community center. As usual we feasted on a plethora of delicious izakaya fare including a first for me - raw chicken! Surprisingly it was delicious, and they assured me it was very fresh (as in, it had been alive that morning) so it shouldn’t make me too sick. As the night progressed I had a beer, a highball, and a carafe of shochu and hot water in front of me; I did my best to polish everything off but thankfully my friends stepped in when they saw how much I had


left and the time had run out at the izakaya. Sebata-san bowed out and we all said our goodbyes and posed for some parting photos. We watched him walk off into the night while the rain pelted against our cheeks. When he went around the corner the conversation started again and someone suggested we head to another izakaya. I followed the crowd and soon enough I found myself surrounded by good friends, some old and some new, sharing good food and drink, while fellowshipping over our mutual love of those magical creatures who live in cold mountain streams. Isaac & Sebata-san


My Tenkara Journey Danièle Beaulieu

Looking back on my 4 years of fishing only with a telescopic tenkara rod has been fantastic! What a roller coaster ride it has been. Back then I knew nothing about tenkara, but I feel I have come a long way and today is another story. I began fly fishing in 2000 with the fly fishing club “Les Moucheurs du Montréal Métropolitain.” The rod I always used was a 6’6” 3-weight. In 2009, I saw a little advertisement for tenkara in an American fly fishing magazine. I started to do some research and found the Japanese style of fly fishing to be very interesting. The simplicity and the places to be fished made it exactly my type of fly fishing. Unfortunately, at the time there was not a lot of information on tenkara fly fishing readily available, so I let it go. In October 2013 at a fly fishing show in Trois-Rivières, Quebec there was a booth talking about tenkara. I fell in love with tenkara and just a few days after that show I bought myself 3 rods without trying it. I was convinced… or simply crazy! In February 2014 I was invited by the fly fishing club “Les Moucheurs Endiablés du Mont-Tremblant” to talk about tenkara at their booth at the fly fishing show in Granby, Quebec. Following that show, Tenkara Canada/Tenkara Quebec was born to sell tenkara, keiryu and seiryu rods, as well as the accessories that



accompany them. Subsequently, the fly fishing club “Le Regroupement de Pêche à la Mouche de Sherbrooke” was kind enough to invite me to their booth for the Sportsmen’s Show held in Sherbrooke, Quebec to speak and demonstrate the beauty of tenkara style fly fishing. Afterward, I also attended a few conferences held by fly fishing clubs in Quebec. Since May 2014, I fish exclusively with my tenkara rods and travel to a lot of American rivers to acquire as much as experience as I can to become a top tenkara reference in Quebec. I fish a wide range of rivers that hold many different types of fish - from trout to landlocked salmon. For me, tenkara is not only fishing, but it is also the ability to make something out of nothing. I decided that it was time for me to DIY some items that every tenkara angler can use. Setting the Tamo


Bamboo Rod Case Furled Horsehair Line

Bent needle kebari

Tamo (Net) It took me a long time to find a branch that seemed good enough for the tamo. It's not the nicest one, but it is good enough for me. I am still working on it as I write this article. I took a white pine branch and immediately bent it by hanging it at almost a 45-degree angle and attaching the two little branches together. Just 24 hours later I took all the ropes off and surprisingly everything stayed in place. Bamboo Rod Case Making a bamboo rod case is a very long process, but it is worth it. I did not know that inside each section of bamboo there was something blocking it, so I had to buy more tools than I expected. I had no idea all of the steps to create a hollow tube. After a few cases, now it takes me about 2 hours to do one. Kebari (Fly) I bought myself some needles to make

hooks. The first thing I did was to cut the needle to remove the hole that a sewer would put the thread through. Then using a candle flame to heat the needle, bent it to the proper shape. I know that I weakened the needle by doing that, but I am sure that it will work on smaller trout. Furled Horsehair Line My friend as a horse and I decided I wanted to do a furled line with the horse hair the same as the Japanese fisherman did it 400 years ago. I took 3 strands and braided like a ponytail. I have not used it yet - but don't worry, in Spring 2018 I will put it and my bent-needle kebari to the test. Tenkara has become a passion for me. My mission is to inform people of Quebec of what a nice way tenkara is to fly fish at a low cost, as well as how easy it is to learn. I hope to see you in a river with a Tenkara rod in your hand!


Canyons Deep and Narrow

A Collection of Poems by Rob Lepczyk Canyons deep and narrow Filled with water, trout, rock and trees Spruce, Ponderosa, moose Welcome to Colorado is what they told me Mean moose, chase dogs off leash Thank the gods I don’t have a dog! The moose might chase me then!

Trout Water

Snow on the pines, What a beautiful thought, A romantic idea, The more the merrier, Water for trout, and people Life water Feeds the world, the trout, the bugs, the anglers Tenkara is about this, the water and the trout.


Hudson the Dog watches me as I tie Wrapping hackle, drinking wine. Music, from my phone, Matches Bordeaux better than the cheese. Grizzly and Herl Grizzly and Herl Grizzly and Herl Wine and Hackle, yum yum yum.

Backyard Brawl

Wind, pushes my face back into my coat I, push my kebari into the water Current, pushes kebari deeper into a trout Trout, pushes against the current I, push the limit, Trout does too, I, lose. Trout does too.


Winter Time Tenkara


Adam Wilner

When I first moved to the Baltimore area about 10 years ago, I was excited to be just a few minutes from one of my favorite trout streams, the Gunpowder River. The Gunpowder is a medium sized tailwater stream flowing cold and clear from a remote, picturesque lake near the Pennsylvania border. The Gunpowder runs though Gunpowder State park, but being so close to Baltimore and DC means that this gentle trout stream is heavily pressured. If you can pull yourself away from chasing the spring hatches during the warmer months and can pull yourself away from the warm comforts of home during the colder months, you can find all the solitude you need.


Solitude, one of the main reasons I go fishing – to escape society’s stress, responsibilities, expectations, and people, to lose myself in nature and to become part of the aquatic ecosystem as I observe and imitate the river’s insects, hoping to connect with the jewels that swim and feed below the surface. Fishing in solitude may be the only activity that allows me to completely lose myself. Time slows down but somehow goes by quickly. If I don’t make an effort to remind myself, I’ll go all day without eating or drinking water. It’s an amazing, spiritual experience that doesn’t happen if I also need to focus on socializing with buddies, or guiding a client. And, it definitely doesn’t happen if I

need to dodge hoards of tubers splashing down the river. I need solitude to truly enjoy a day of fishing, and the best way to experience this serenity and solitude is to venture to the stream in the midst of winter. Like most catch & release tailwater fisheries, the Gunpowder sees its share of crowds. Most of these anglers, however, only fish the stream in the spring, especially during the sulphur hatch. There are other hatches, and you can probably find someone on the river most days of the year, but none of the hatches draws the attention and the crowds like the sulphur hatch.


Many anglers stick around during the summer months after the sulphurs die down to take advantage of the terrestrial and trico action, as well as the cold water that flows all year long. But, summer time also brings the hoards of tubers and kayakers. The fish don’t seem to care about the chaos floating by; I’ve even caught trout while rowdy tubers are floating right over the fish. But, the tubers are definitely annoying to the angler, so a good number of fisherman concede to the summer crowds and avoid the stream during the “tube hatch." Once fall comes around, the tubers and paddlers have left, but not many anglers frequent the stream. Why? I wonder. Are people so fixated on hatches that they think the only time worth fishing is during a big mayfly hatch? News flash: A trout trying to survive on tiny insects in cold current must eat frequently throughout the year! However, I’ve talked to more than one Gunpowder angler who feel that

the fishing season ends in late October. To one of these so called “dedicated” anglers, I asked, “Oh, are you opposed to fishing when the trout are spawning?” He gave me an awkward, puzzled look and replied, “No, not really, I guess. But, the hatches are gone, and there are too many fallen leaves in the stream to fish it.” I wanted to reply with, “The big hatches might be gone but so are all the fair weather fishermen such as yourself!” Instead I just put it to rest by agreeing, “Yeah, the fishing can be pretty tough.” But, the truth is that fishing can always be tough, even under the best conditions. And, I’ve had some of my best days on the river in late November over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The insect activity often is limited, but the fish are hungry and aggressive, and big bright flies like a green kebari pictured can draw strikes from trout throughout the year. The picture was taken in late November, and you can see that the stream is free from fallen leaves. My only company that day was the family of busy beavers that came out right before dusk to prepare for winter. In fact, one of my favorite things about fishing in late November is witnessing all the beaver activity as they get ready for the freeze.


As the temperatures continue to drop and the days become frustratingly short. Winter takes hold of the landscape and provides the most beautiful, serene fishing experience you can find. I realize that the cold weather deters anglers from wetting a line, but if you make the necessary preparations you can stay warm and comfortable as you enjoy the winter wonderland. See my article in last year’s winter issue of Tenkara Angler for an in depth look at gearing up for winter.


Here in Baltimore, the winter of 2016-2017 failed to lay that beautiful blanket of snow on the landscape. What a disappointment! I love walking along the stream through the skeleton trees with only the sound of virgin snow crunching under my feet. And, I especially love how the snow sends the fair-weather


fishermen back to the comforts of their homes. True, the fish have slowed down and aren’t eating as much, and the insect activity is at an absolute minimum, but on warm afternoons you might be lucky enough find little swarms of midges dancing over the water or winter stoneflies skittering on the surface, which can be imitated with a traditional black sakasa kebari. On cloudy days, look for a hatch of baetis flies, often when there’s some light snow or rain. Nice trout like the rainbow pictured still eat in the winter and can’t resist a properly presented midge pattern. By late February, the weather can be downright erratic here in Maryland. It’s still winter, and the fair-weather fishermen are still inside, but there are

many days when Spring sneaks out of its slumber to give us some warm afternoons and some heavy hatches of winter stoneflies. And this time of year can also bring that nasty cold rain and sleet, which keeps even more anglers at home and which seems to trigger heavy hatches of blue wing olives. This is a great time of year to catch fish that are waking up from winter and looking for bugs to eat, and it’s a great time to get a jump on all the anglers sitting at home tying flies and waiting for Spring. The picture was taken the first weekend in March. I was expecting to encounter at least a few other fishermen on such a nice late winter / early spring day, but it was just me and my serenity!


Buddha, Barb Wire, and a Bit of Freedom Melissa J. Alcorn

"Fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air. It brings meekness and inspiration, reduces our egoism, soothes our troubles and shames our wickedness. It is discipline in the equality of men--for all men are equal before ďŹ sh.â€? Herbert Hoover 48

The sun was broiling us as we stood beside a flagpole on July 4th in the middle of a cracked desert in the Great Basin of Utah. Shade was not available except for the smallest creatures that could cower beneath sage. On a day commemorating a country built on foundational principles of equality and freedom, we stood in that beastly hot and forsaken location newly infused with a tactile and sincere sense of what independence means. Twisted into the fence just beyond the flagpole is the word “Topaz.” We had passed through Delta, Utah at the beginning of the long weekend as we headed west towards the Sierra Nevada Range and fulfillment of a goal to return to Manzanar Relocation Camp with fishing rods after having discovered the story of the Manzanar Fishing Club months earlier. It became an obsession since that visit in March on the day President Trump ordered a revised travel ban and the whole world worried we were sliding into another period of internments. It was a particularly meaningful day to wander within the barbed wire and to discover fishing tackle resting on the monument in the cemetery behind camp. The idea of fishermen defying their armed guards to drop a line in water was something we latched on to, a glimmer of resilience during an anxious time. The Topaz Museum in Delta was not part of our plan but felt unavoidable, a necessary piece of the puzzle of internment we were tracking. Beginning in December 1942, Topaz Relocation Center was the desolate, forced home for thousands of Japanese Americans. To the great credit of Delta residents, they have


faithfully preserved the story of Topaz. Figurines made from shells found in the basin floor, tea cups, sandals, hair pins, school books—details of confined life are neatly displayed. It was the dress that stopped me cold. White silk, hand-sewn into a simple wedding gown. Brides in camp did not have the luxury of frilly princess seams and beads. The silk, I knew that silk, and felt I’d worn that dress. It haunted me as we drove west. As a fortunate child, I regularly took advantage of easy access to doting grandparents and sweet treats they’d provide. They would talk as long as I was willing to stay. At the top of the stairs of their classic post-WWII home, a series of sliding doors hid treasures. When I was lucky, Grandma would disappear and return with an item and a story. Within those cabinets were the roots of my Japan focus, in there dwelled a ridiculous laughing Buddha, silks printed with colorful geishas standing in front of mountains, and other reminders of Occupied Japan. It was grandma’s dress I felt on my shoulders as I stared at the one displayed at the Topaz Museum. A decade after our wedding, I pulled it from my mother’s cedar chest and carefully slipped it over my head. It fell beautifully. White chocolate silk draping over me in simplistic lines, the kind of gown I might have preferred to the bouffant beaded dress I did wear. Grandma was amazed that it fit me, apologetic that she never offered it, and teary-eyed at recalling the provenance of the fabric and their wedding. Spellbound by the dress at Topaz, I missed my grandmother and I


wanted to know the interned bride, both regrettably beyond my reach. My grandparents were rural Minnesota teenagers courting in 1941 with dreams of a lovely, simple life ahead of them. I never asked them about that December 7th, but it altered their plans. Grandpa was drafted into the Army in 1944, sent to train for service in Occupied Japan. Lillian sent her precious Sid off to the other side of the globe with a small New Testament simply inscribed: “All my love, Lillian.” While she finished high school, he sailed to Japan and the Philippines. He sent beautiful things home for Lillian, but it was the pure white silk that mattered most. He returned to Lillian in November 1945. On the fourth anniversary of Pearl Harbor my grandmother wore that parachute silk,



carefully stitched into the elegant wedding gown. Of my grandfather’s perspective, I only know what a handful of tiny black and white snapshots can tell me from his time in Japan--bombed out airfields, random smirking soldier faces, a few stray dogs. I know where he spent some time because of a set of silk napkins with “Yokohama” shakily embroidered in red thread that I keep tucked away. I do not know where or how he acquired the parachute, maybe while cleaning the airfield; but it was common for servicemen to track the white fabric down, trade what they could, and gain that prized fabric for their girls waiting back home. A whole story could be spun of brides wearing Japanese parachute silk wedding dresses in the late

1940s. This is about two dresses and a path to understanding the precarious nature of freedom through fishing. While my sixteen-year-old future grandparents were going on about their Midwestern life, teenagers up and down the West Coast were finding themselves on buses and trains to uncertain existence in 1942. The relocation and internment of Japanese Americans forced far too many to live within barb-wired perimeters and tar-paper barracks in desolate places. Manzanar, on a dusty patch of land in California’s Owens Valley beneath the inspiring peaks of the Sierra Nevada Range, is surrounded by streams and the promise of trout. Within the fence, routine was a façade of normal American life, if one could consider being under armed guard typical. Outside the fence was opportunity. Barbed wire still surrounds Manzanar but there are no gates, just a dirt road and a few signs that articulate the terrible past of checkpoints and armed guards. A replica tower stands, with search light hauntingly turned to the inside of the fence. We drove in, unchecked, wound our way to the southwest section of blocks and parked beside the road across from the half-buried walls of a garden. I love the gardens at the relocation centers--silent voices of the importance of nature within the strangest confinements. These fountains and ponds were assembled as tranquil spots for spiritual escape. The gardens were inadequate release for the Fishing Club. With handcrafted rigs, they crept in shadows and under cover of darkness to escape camp altogether.


Fully illuminated, we pulled fishing packs out of the back of our truck, ironically a Toyota, and started walking under a hot July sun to that same spot. There’s a corner of camp where Bairs Creek slices in and provides liquid diversion from oppression. That’s where I sought the company of a fish and a better sense of Manzanar. My grandfather brought a set of dainty pearl-white porcelain bowls back from Japan for his sweetheart. The thin petal shapes of the bowls clutch contents like a caress and turn a lowly scoop of vanilla into something extraordinary. For a while after they became mine, I dared not use them. To break them would crumble a little piece of me, but I need to feel them now and then. They make me day dream of what Lil and Sid might have thought of Japan. The bowls possess mystery. Rusty nails litter the ground at Manzanar like rice tossed at departing newlyweds. Camp dissolved into the desert after closing in 1945. Our walk across Block 6 to gain access to Bairs Creek traversed a lesser trampled part of the camp where the ground yields relics. walking with my rod in hand and sweat dripping, my eyes seized upon a shattered plate emerging from the ground. This was standard mess hall ceramic, nothing dainty about it. The women had to leave their prettier things behind in hutches they would never return to. I picked up the broken plate, rolled it around in my hands, and wondered--did Block 6 Mess Hall lines buzz with rumors of the Fishing Club. Did they shelter returning fishermen when that last cast meant a return as light threatened to uncover their exploits? I tucked the sherd




back in the dirt and walked on towards where the creek should be, watching my steps carefully. Bairs Creek starts high in the Sierra Nevada and rolls down the eastern slope of Mt. Williamson as a mountain stream. Giant granite boulders greet its arrival at the Owens Valley and then the creek becomes something entirely different. If water could be bipolar, the creeks surrounding Manzanar would certainly be candidates. As we approached Bairs, the snowpack in the Sierra lingered above replenishing the stream, but only a trickle of clear water in a deep rut of desert makes the passage under the fence. Its pools are protected with menacing tangles of willow and sage, but at least now the flora does not provide cover for armed guards with instructions to shoot fellow citizens. We selected our fishing spots without any watchful eyes or fear of shadows at the fence line. Pictures show children playing at this bend of the creek, drawn to the cool water on those miserable high desert summer days. There are stories of children trying to pull random trout from the creek with whatever they could string together, and even a tale of a guard providing would be trout catchers with droplines. Other than the ornamental garden ponds sprinkled around the camp, this was the place for flowing water and a little less confinement. Yet confined is exactly how it felt to me--used to alpine lakes and mountain streams, Bairs Creek feels like entrapment. It was flowing water, and there were fishy spots, so we fished it. Our lines never tightened and I realized I need a shorter rod for water this technical and




small. I understood it now--the pull to see the creek beyond the fence, surely out there the fishing is easier. It was time to exit camp. “I guess I am catching the same thing they did—a sense of normal.” SPA on July 3, 2017 standing beside Bairs Creek just beyond the fence at Manzanar Stephen is a warrior. He led tank platoons on to battlefields and knows the meaning and price of freedom in intimate ways. My frame of reference is far less enlightened. That the act of fishing could be subversive activity is hard to imagine until you stand by the barbed wire and imagine the faces of Americans looking at the crisp heights of Mt. Williamson with her promise of alpine lakes and trout bounty. We walked the line between interment and selfdetermination until we found a spot where the bottom wire sagged to the ground. We each set down our fishing rod to crawl under and emerge on the free side of the ridiculous boundary. No guards, just lizards hiding in shade from the heat bearing down on all of us souls thirsty for the tug of a trout. Contrary to my silly hopes, Bairs Creek does not open into a pristine stream on the other side of the fence. It remains a desert snarl. If anything, the sage and willows grow taller and the bushwhack more challenging and abrasive to exposed flesh. I slithered down the eroding, steep embankment to gain access to crystalline shallow water. If the trout are here, it will be a challenge to get their attention versus spook them. Casting carefully at the bend, I floated my self-tied tenkara fly across



water I hoped possessed a free creature. This made me wonder, was that part of their release via fishing? Was the fact a trout can move willingly about the stream and choose to take a fly within the equation that urged fishing club members out for the sport? It is a derivative of the hope I maintained that if I kept carefully drifting my fly on this narrow stretch of water I had a chance to catch something. The intensity of my focus on the snowcapped Sierra vistas I was catching while casting upstream through the shrouded corridor of water grew as my optimism melted. No wonder they kept pushing deeper into the hills. The fishing club assembled fishing kits with the few items they possessed— sewing thread and needles, rice for bait, willow branches. While I struggled with getting my line lassoed between sage and

willow into tiny pools, Stephen collapsed and packed his tenkara rod. I watched him select a willow branch and sit on the sandy bank to begin whittling away a slim tip. He trimmed his level line to match the length of his branch, tied one of my kebari flies on the end, and then stood to assess his new rig. I was intrigued as he triumphantly made his first cast. After his second cast, he hesitated in realization that willow is unforgiving in contrast to his modern rod. Finesse comes slowly, but the experience connected him with the fishing club. He placed the stick rig in my hand in exchange for my rod, and I attempted to cast as if it was the exact same thing. It was not. Eventually I gained some agility with the system--it is less about flinging the fly onto the water and more dropping it at precisely the right spot and floating into the face of hypothetical fish. My respect for the men, and women, out in the desert




with sticks and string rose exponentially. As if daring bullets was not enough, this genre of fishing is extreme. Fishing club members slid out in the night and walked along the creek for miles to fish their way back to camp, hopefully returning to camp without drawing attention. We fished unnoticed, or at least unbothered, by guards, park rangers, or trout. The heat overcame our desire to keep casting beside Bairs Creek. We retreated across ground littered with 1940s beer cans and more nails, retracing our steps to our portal under the barbs. It feels different going in and somewhat perverse to sneak into an internment camp. The willow branch joins the modern fishing gear stashed in the truck. The pole goes home with us, a tactile vestige of chasing freedom and fish. We were not quite done fishing Manzanar but we would stick to our own rods and better our odds. The Manzanar Reservoir was constructed, largely by internees, to divert and collect water from Shepherd Creek beyond the northwest corner of camp. The “Water Crew” were among the first to discover the freedom of sneaking off with a fishing rod for a few hours of chasing trout, particularly the night watchmen, and sometimes their children. The “Farm Crew” similarly had access to the outside and George Creek south of camp. We opted to visit the reservoir and to see if Shepherd Creek was less of a thicket and more forgiving.


Why I expected water in a reservoir constructed to keep a long-dormant internment camp and relic of war’s uglier side hydrated is perhaps best explained by


heat exhaustion, but it surprised us to find an empty concrete bowl rimmed with decorative Sierra rocks like a beautiful Japanese garden. Inscriptions in the concrete provide names and thoughts of those building the “Manzanar Wall,” and turns it from sterile water containment into a spiritual shrine. Driving a distance farther down the rocky road with a windshield full of Sierra scenery, we were grateful for air-conditioning as the thermometer broke triple digits. If we found a break in the vegetative shroud preventing access to Shepherd Creek we were quite sure we would not fish it for long. Apparently when you have freedom, and live in supreme fly fishing terrain, you are much less dogged in pursuit of a stream. Shepherd Creek maintains more of her mountain soul than Bairs and tumbles from rock to drop through the sage forest. One of us had called it a day, having exhausted his desire to fish in the heat. I, however, needed to keep going in my pursuit of Manzanar trout. The pocket water was promising, so long as I could keep the tip of my Japanese rod free of the willows and place a fly on the water. It was some of the most precise fishing I have attempted and I enjoyed the challenge. As I extricated a fly from a branch, I realized this too was a likely motivator—reduced to the simple tasks of living in camp, the fishermen needed to feel the adrenaline of luring and landing a trout in a tough stretch of water. The experience of fishing restored dignity and purpose, especially if they were catching speckled beauties. I was not and I was at the point of relenting to the heat. I collapsed my rod, wound my line on the spool, and stood there by

Shepherds Creek a moment praying the universe would spare any population from feeling the shame of illegitimate internment. Better we all just go fishing. We often say the fishing is not the point of standing out there with a rod and line, and I doubt there was a more poignant example of that principle. Striped of respect, privacy, nationality, and everything they had built in their lives, the ability to escape to a place of solitude and soothing nature unobscured by guard towers and fences was a way to cope. It was a means of rebelling and demonstrating resilience. It was indeed, a little bit of normal. It was as American as my grandfather returning from his Japan occupation, marrying his beautiful Lil wearing her parachute silk gown, and a few decades later teaching me how to patiently wait for a fish to take my worm. The Independence Day sun shining on Topaz was brutal. Unlike the internees and fishermen (and women) of Manzanar, those held within fences in the dusty Great Basin had no soothing mountain views or chances to stand near cool


streams. I stare at the terrain and rubble, yet many more nails, and wonder what they dreamt of. I hope they found their means to cope. We crisscross camp noticing landmarks—the hospital, sunken gardens, and administrative buildings— but what strikes us most is the dedication of substantial block space to baseball. I walk lines worn in the dirt connecting ghost bases of the Block 24 diamond, the batting cage still there. There is no doubt the men and women, boys and girls that played on those fields were as American as the sport they clearly loved, as American as the Fishing Club. As we drive home and the sun that has tortured us with heat all day finally settles into the shifting horizon, we watch fireworks dancing in the sky in celebration of freedom. I find myself newly infused with a sense of what that word means and the import that we never take for granted that we all bleed the same, we all have the same four nucleic acids coding our DNA, and we all have things like wedding dresses, fishing, and baseball that make us feel at peace no matter what obscene things are going on around us.




Rio Grande Cichlids Rob Gonzalez

Seems like it was a better than average year for catching Rio Grande Cichlids in the Central Texas area. Usually by the end of summer, Rios can become ragged and even start to produce ulcerations on their sides (possibly due to lower quality and rising water temperatures) – but not this year. They were plentiful, in great health, and a blast to catch. Being a member of the cichlid family, they’re aggressive yet protective of their many offspring and have a complex mating system. An invasive species from the lower Rio Grande basin, they can now be found in Louisiana and Florida canals. Their distinctive cream and turquoise colored spots as well as their dark vertical bands on a light olive to a dark background yields a very beautiful and unusual fish compared to the other warm water species in the area. Males develop a nuchal hump on their foreheads and Rios can grow to over 10”. The current IGFA certified record is 11.1” weighing in at 2.02 lbs and caught in Lake Dunlap in Sept, 2011. Rios are cold sensitive and prefer water temps in the 68-82 degree range but their high tolerance for lower quality water and even high salinity aids in their distributive reach. Typically caught on bottom flies such as Bennet’s Rio Getter, this year it seemed they were taking everything from small top waters, squirmy wormies, dry flies, to various kebari. Definitely consider adding the Rio Grande Cichlid to your species bucket list the next time you're in Texas!



Balance & Core Training For Tenkara Adam Klagsbrun

Why Balance & Core Training? Tenkara is arguably one of the most fun mountain sports for people who also like to fish. However, being in the wilderness is rarely easy on the body, even if it surely is easy on the mind. Climbing over rocks and wet roots, scrambling up steep slopes and dealing with shifting debris under foot is much easier when you’re in shape for the task.


Last December, when I had made final plans to hike the John Muir Trail and spend the year fishing and adventuring in the mountains, I knew that it was time to get back into serious shape. Even if just to help prevent injury, it was clearly a good idea to take my fitness and balance to the next level. Many of us ignore our bodies on a daily basis, and who can blame us!? Between work, family, commuting, chores and unexpected events, its hard for most of us to keep up with staying in shape. Nobody can say its easy to remain committed to exercising and working out – and while many of us look at our adventures into the mountains as the work-out itself, I’d like to make a case for why its worth spending time doing a few basic exercises either back home or in the gym. First off, let me be clear that there’s more to having a strong body than lifting weights and dieting. This article isn’t about


telling you to lose weight and look better. Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean dieting and being as skinny as a model – for most of us that will never be a reality, and its not something to be upset about in the least. The key is to make sure you commit to a regimen that will create results… because results breeds more motivation! There really are four things that matter for getting into good shape for Tenkara fishing in the mountains – Legs, Core, Balance, and Cardio. While there’s tons of info available about how to get into good Cardiovascular shape, I’m going to skip that here, and just say to spend a minimum of 20 minutes per day, 4 days a week on cardio. For this article, we are going to focus on Legs, Core & Balance training. Let’s start with the Core - which is what holds your body together. Without a strong core, you’ll be way more susceptible to back, neck and shoulder pains, as well as being more prone to injury in those areas. Chances are, if you already suffer from back aches and/or neck and shoulder pain, you need to work on your core. In turn, a strong core will lead to better balance and the ability to train your balance in ways you didn’t realize were possible. Better Balance means better skills navigating rushing water, less risk walking on slick wet rocks, and surer footing on unstable ground. Of course, none of this helps without strong legs to carry you to your destination… so we will cover that as well.

What this all amounts to is falling and slipping less on the stream, huge improvements in your general streamnavigating abilities, increase in focus and therefore accuracy with your casting and fishing, as well as much less soreness after you get back from the mountains. Did I mention that you’ll be able to move faster as well? Creating a Workout for Tenkara Putting together a workout program is never an easy task… so I recommend that you spend some money working with a trainer. It can be a life changing experience when someone pays attention to your body and tells you where your weaknesses are… and I can guarantee that you’ll feel it is worth every penny. For now, though,


let’s assume that we aren’t going to utilize a trainer… I’m going to lay out a set of exercises that everyone will be able to do without even going to the gym! You can use a picnic bench or any bench for that matter, for every exercise you’ll see here. These exercises are focused on a combination of balance and core training, and if you stick to them you are going to see results. Major results… this I can guarantee. You should rotate the workouts so that you’re doing one set of each exercise, alternating between them and then recycling back to the first exercise. For each exercise, you’ll start with 8 repetitions, and work your way up to 12 as you improve. You’ll repeat that entire process 3 times for each exercise. Make sense?

The Work Out Legs & Core first! A few common issues for people in the mountains include sore knees. Often this comes from imbalanced leg muscles and/or lack of muscle in some areas as opposed to others. You don’t just want to strengthen your quads, you’ll need to balance that out with strong hamstrings and calves too! Many of these leg exercises also work the core. Bonus! 1) Step Ups - using a picnic bench, put your left leg up on the bench and step up, bringing your right knee up towards your chest, and then step back down with your right leg to the ground. Leave your left knee on the bench. Do 10 reps, and then switch legs.


2) Squats – With your legs about shoulder-length apart, stand with the bench of the same picnic bench behind you. Keeping your weight on your heels, and your back totally straight, sit back and squat. If you need, use the picnic bench as a seat when you squat to take some of the weight off. Stand back up from that position. It is important to keep your back straight and your core tight when doing this, so that you feel it in your hamstrings and your glutes (the side of your butt will feel the burn when you do it right!)

Ultimately you want to squat without the “safety net” of the bench, but you want to make sure you aren’t straining too hard… the idea is to work up to strength and not over-strain yourself. If you feel a lot of soreness in your knees, you have a lot more work to do… and you’ll need some straps or bars to use to help take the weight off your legs by holding yourself up with your arms partially while doing the exercise. Don’t worry, its not cheating! You don’t want to strain yourself, you want to strengthen. If you are feeling too much soreness, you need to assist yourself while building up that muscle.


3) Double & Single Leg Lifts - Lie on your back with your knees bent and place your feet at on the ground. Push up with your hips and hold a couple of seconds, then release. You should focus on doing these on repeat for about 30 seconds. If it gets hard, just hold the pose for a few seconds instead of doing more reps. Once you are really good at this, take one leg and lift it straight up to the sky. Do the same exercise as we just did, but with only one leg on the ground.

4) Lunges – Stand straight with your feet together but not touching. Step forward with your left leg about 12-18 inches, then lower your right knee to the ground. Then come up with that knee and step back to your standing pose. Keep as much weight on your left heel as possible during this exercise! Repeat. Do 8-10 reps and then switch sides.


Core & Balance are intertwined in interesting ways, and these exercises will focus on both. Sometimes its hard to understand just how it all works together… trust me, it does! 1) Incline Push Ups – push-ups aren’t always thought of as a core exercise, but they are. Can you do 10? 20? I couldn’t when I started. If you are like me, start with incline push-ups. Using the picnic bench or something else elevated off the ground, place your arms about shoulder length apart. Lower yourself with your arms, but keep your elbows IN! Remember how proper casting form keeps your arms in close to your body? You want to do the same here. You don’t have to go all the way down until your chest touches… that’s more strain than necessary. Once you can do about 15 incline push ups, its time to go horizontal and do regular push ups. Work back up to at least 12. This will work your shoulders and arms too… but the real benefit we are focusing on is the core.

2) Sit ups/crunches – this one is relatively self-explanatory, just make sure to do a few sets of crunches or sit ups. 3) Planks – these are simple to learn and yet challenging to execute. This involves holding the fully extended push-up position while flexing the muscles in your core. It’s a really fast way to build a really solid core, and if there’s only one exercise you’re going to do from this list, this is the one I recommend. Shoot for 30 seconds first, then a minute. Once you’re up to a minute on a plank, it’s a good sign you are making incredible progress! Once you’re good at this, start lifting either a leg or an arm off the ground and doing the planks on 3 points of contact with the ground instead of 4. Its not easy!


4) Single Leg Airplane or “warrior pose” and the one leg deadlift – this is the most difficult to master and yet the most effective core strengthening exercise I’ve ever seen and participated in. You will have to work on this one in stages – I promise it will be worth it… so don’t give up when it isn’t easy. Stand with your legs feet just a couple of inches apart with your knees very slightly bent. Start by lifting one knee up while standing on your other leg, keeping your knee slightly bent. Now before you get to the next step, make sure you can balance on one leg! If you can’t yet do that, spend a few days just balancing on one leg like this before going any further. Once you can do that, you are ready for the rest of the exercise.

From the position of balancing on one leg, with that knee slightly bent and the other knee raised up, you’ll now push that raised leg backwards, pivoting your body forwards and bending at the hip. This should look a little bit like the “dipping bird” toy that you may or may not remember from old times. You’ll want to hold that pose for 30 seconds, and then a minute once you can. It will be a challenge to remain balanced… and once you do, it will be a challenge for your muscles to hold the pose that long.

This is a complicated exercise, and is not easy to explain with a few words and photos. I recommend searching this exercise online and doing a bit more reading to make sure you fully understand it. Once you master it, you can upgrade to one-leg deadlifts.


5) Which brings me to the last exercise… deadlifts! You should be doing deadlifts regularly to build a strong core. Deadlifts are difficult and can be dangerous, so let me say this outright – if you’ve never done deadlifts before, do not attempt them right now from this article! Go straight to the gym, sign up for a few sessions with a physical trainer and learn the right way. Then incorporate 3 sets of them into your workout. For now, that should be plenty for everyone to work on – but stay tuned as I’ll write another article on this topic in the future (with more advanced versions of some of these exercises,) using some more specific equipment for anyone that wants to take it to the next level.

Photo: Michael Tsang


Being in shape is no easy task… but I guarantee if you create goals and stick with it consistently, these simple exercises will improve your abilities in the mountains, improve your health and help to prevent injury while out on the stream.


Build Your Own Tamo Adam Rieger


If you have ever seen the beautiful work done by master Tamo maker Mankyu (now deceased) you have probably wanted one. They are gorgeous and rightfully expensive. To truly make a piece of art like those nets it takes years of practice and talent. But, without much skill (I have none myself!) you can easily make your own net that will be fun to make and very functional, and it might even be gorgeous as well!

○ Zip ties and/or twine

I am by no means talented or skilled at this nor an expert, but I have made some very functional nets and enjoyed the DIY project and so wanted to share with the Tenkara community a bit of a “How To” in the hopes this could help those interested in giving Tamo making a whirl... and I hope you do! WHAT YOU'LL NEED: TOOLS ○ Branch cutting saw - landscaping version will do. Silky (Japanese company) makes very sharp compact folding saws you can keep with your outdoor gear in case you find that branch randomly while fishing or hiking etc...

○ Wood carving knife - anything from a pocket knife to specialized knife. The Japanese versions available online via Amazon and others are affordable and great. Wakashishi Kidirashi craft knife for example ○ A form to shape the hoop. This can be a pot, wok stand, circle cut from plywood with holes drilled, be creative but you will need a way to attach the branch to the “form”

○ Wood glue - the best I have found is Titebond III which is strong and waterproof. Epoxy can work too

○ Fine tooth rigid spine saw with narrow kerf - Zona makes a great one but Exacto does too and it is readily available. This saw will be for cutting the splice joint. Other saws can work but without a sharp fine tooth narrow kerf you risk breaking the branch ○ Sand paper

○ Optional - rotary tool with sanding attachment

FINISHING STUFF You can stain or not, but you must protect the wood with either an oil like Tung or a varnish. Decorative wraps with thread, leather or rattan are options. I like to wrap the splice joint with rattan for added strength.

○ Varnish - optional. I use Clear Shield by Minwax. UV protector, Waterproof and breathable it also “flexes” when dry ○ Stain - optional ○ Tung oil - optional ○ Leather for wrapping ○ Rattan or Wisteria for wrapping ○ Thread for decorative wraps NET You can buy premade nets; most western companies sell “tear drop” shaped nets which you can use just make the shape of the branch more tear drop. Japanese mesh


bags are available from Tenkara USA on their website; via Japan from Tenkara-Ya by special order. Mankyu sells just the mesh bags which are still available and Tenkara-Ya can get them. There is another company Shimizu that sells the mesh bags and attaching kit. These are available via Tenkara-Ya also. You can of course make your own net if you can sew from laundry bag material or something else. You can also buy cheap aquarium fish nets (great idea JJ!) to use, or even kids butterfly nets online where the bag can be reused.


Whatever you choose it is important to match the “form” size to the net you choose.

○ Wire to create a “hoop” around the top loops of the net. A “No Tarnish” jewelry wire works... brass is nice. 24-gauge is good. You can also use thread if you prefer ○ Thread to tie on the net. I use nanocord (nylon paracord in very small size). You basically want a thread that can handle water and not break down ○ Sewing needle helps! ○ Super glue to seal the final knot Now that we have covered the basic tools to get the job done let’s begin! First up is branch selection… Branch Selection Many different types of wood can be worked to make a tamo... but the easiest for a first attempt is a pine species. In my part of the country (North of NYC) we have a lot of White Pine. Pine trees grow


in an advantageous shape where on any given branch it produces side branches perpendicular to the main branch and with one on each side forming a “T” shaped joint. This shape is what you need the branch to look like to shape the hoop in a decent circle. The other advantage pine has is that a live branch or green branch bends very easily making shaping easy. I harvest branches in the Fall and winter when sap is at its lowest. I have spoken to others that prefer spring... clearly both work! The main branch is going to be the “handle” so be sure it is thicker than you want it you can always remove material later. The side branches are going to form the hoop. Each of these branches needs to be at least as thick as a Sharpie for enough length to form the hoop. I have been using a 10-inch form so you need the side branches of the “T” to each be around 20 inches. A 10-inch diameter is a circumference of about 32 inches, so each branch needs to extend far enough to make the circle but also to have some good overlap.

Once you have found the branch, cut it so that all parts are longer than you need... handle end longer... sides longer and the top of the “T” which you will eventually remove... leave an inch or so there. This is important because as you dry the branch it may crack, and it will crack on the “ends” first so by leaving extra (that you plan to remove anyhow) you eliminate the chance the crack ruins the branch. To make one tamo, I suggest finding two branches... this way if you mess something up on one you still have a chance to finish one. Of the two one will be preferred... so always do each step on the “lesser” branch first to “practice”.


Shaping the Branch As soon as you can, after cutting the branch, strip off the bark. I do this with a pocket knife and rubber gloves to keep my hands clean of the sap. You just want to remove the outer bark to help in the drying... no need to start carving at this point! It is not a bad if you leave a chunk of the green inner bark. When you have finished stripping the bark attach the branch to your form using zip ties or twine. Start the to make the attachment at the joint and work your way out and around evenly on both sides. Try to keep the branch as tight to the form as you can. Continue working your way


around on each side until you meet and keep going until all of each of the branches are wrapped around the form. You want both side branches to overlap but continue to hold the shape. If you are alone doing this sometimes you cannot get it as tight as you want. Finish it as best you can and then start at the handle again using zip ties or twine to get it tighter... and then remove the old zip ties or twine as you go getting it tighter and tighter to the form. It might not be perfect and that is ok... later you can work on the shape again. (See Figure 1) You may also at this stage want to adjust the angle of the handle... you can either bend the handle more deeply or atten it as you prefer. Just tie some rope to one end of the handle and then bend to where you like it (go slow!) and tie off on the form. (See Figures 2 & 3) 2) Pot Method


1) Zip Ties 3) Wok Stand

Drying the Branch Once you have peeled the bark and done your best to fix the branch to the form you now need a place to dry the branch. I have found my shed to be a great place; I just hang it over the winter and check back in Spring. I have dried branches out even longer up to a year as well. The drying process cures the shape and allows the wood to be nicely carved, sanded and stained or oiled later. (Figure 4 shows extended drying) Tweaking the Shaping after Drying After the branch has dried, remove it from the form. It should hold the shape quite well. Now you can cut off some of the excess wood you left above the handle and inside the hoop. You may begin to carve this zone to remove excess wood. If there are any little wood knots from small side branches that you had removed on the main branch you can now remove them with the carving knife or the saw. If you left a lot of extra on the arm branches of the hoop you can reduce that now but still leave extra!

4) Extended Drying


5) Tightening Against Form

If you love the shape and angle of the handle you can skip the next step, if not and you want to further refine the shape then see how flexible the arm branches are. If you feel you can still bend them a bit manually to tighten up against the form more, then do so. If not, and you want to get the circle better you will need to begin to steam bend the branch. (See Figure 5) Steam Bending/Steam Setting By steaming the branch, you loosen the branch to be able to shape it for a short time while it is hot. When it cools off it hardens to that shape. I use a tall narrow


stock pot for this filled with water about ⅓ the way brought to a boil. I use as a form a metal wok stand, so I attach the branch via zip ties to the form as best I can, then I put the area I want to bend over the steam. I wrap the sides of the pot with foil loosely, so the branch does not rest on the hot edge of the pot and only on the foil.


Alternatively, you could use towels but I have a gas range so I am always nervous about a fire. I then cover the whole thing with foil and steam for like 20 minutes or more. At that point using gloves (because it is hot!) I push the branch tighter onto the form and zip tie it there. The steam should have loosened the wood enough to get some more “give.” Keep doing this to get the branch to stick to the form more closely. You may need to steam again longer so repeat this as needed until you get it where you want it. Is this necessary? No. It is optional. If you really want to try to make the hoop “perfectly” round it is the way. Will the 6 & 7) Steaming


tamo work not perfectly round, of course! This is a personal preference thing and often you will find if you were able to get things very tight while the wood was new the branch maybe is in great shape already. This is also the time to adjust the handle angle if you do not like where it ended up after drying. You may find you can bend it to where you want it without steam. If you can do that then, just go slow! If you were able to tweak the shape of the hoop and/or handle by force and tie it off. You will still want to steam the whole branch hoop section for about 30 minutes. This will loosen tension by loosening the wood fibers and have the branch yield to how you secured it. After steaming let it cool off and dry a bit more. I hang it back in the shed for a month. I am not sure if that much longer is needed but steam-setting the wood and then drying it further has made it hold that finished shape when I remove it from the form. (See Figures 6 & 7)

8) Measuring 9) First Cut 10) Matching Cut


A Note About Other Wood Types In my personal tamo building I have always used pine, but in talking with others many different types of wood can be used. Many other tree/bushes have different natural geometry that makes finding the perfect branch much harder, but if you do find it, then it could be great. Also, some types of wood are much less flexible even when green so this means you will probably not be able to avoid a fair amount of steam bending the wood. Online and in the Tenkara USA forums you can access pictures and suggestions from many tamo DIY projects with other types of wood and see how they did it. Making the Splice This is maybe the hardest part of the project. I have seen people suggest cutting the joint on an angle with one cut. Cutting through both branches where they overlap in one shot. I do not personally like this method because it requires then connecting the two ends under tension (you will have to stretch the two ends to meet). I prefer to mark the area I want to do the splice. I select a good area where the two branches overlap and are both

reasonably thick. I mark off about a 2-inch zone on each branch. I then with my hand saw (that fine tooth narrow kerf hard spine saw) cut an angle cut that extends the full two inches on one branch only. Once that is complete I line up the second branch without tension and double check the markings and adjust to match what I just successfully cut. I then cut the second branch with the counter angle of cut for the full length. The longer the cut and the shallower the angle the better. That will give you the largest surface area for the glue connection. More surface area is stronger. Keep that in mind and try not to do the cut steeply. A dull saw with big teeth and a thick kerf will make doing a shallow angle very difficult. When the cuts are complete is a good idea to sand the cut surface and edges and make sure it all fits nicely. I have come to love my rotary hand tool with a sanding attachment for doing this quickly. Don’t sand too fine, having a rough surface for the glue later is good. (See Figures 8, 9, & 10 above)


Gluing the Joint To glue the joint is easy if you did the cut in such a way where there is little to no tension other than the up & down between the two angles. To begin I put a zip tie on each branch and tighten them about 90% of the way so they will just loosely slide over the joint on either side. Dry fit it at this point, making sure the zip tie is closed down but not tight, so you can slide it on and off for this “dry run”. Sand more if needed. Once it all works brush on each side of the meeting splice joints Titebond III glue. Then while putting the two ends together slide the zip ties over each end and tighten down. With a wet cloth wipe off excess glue. If needed to “marry” the joint better add more zip ties. Let the glue dry overnight. In the morning with a razor or box cutter you can cut off the zip ties. 12) Glued & Zip Tied Tight


11) Zip Tie Prep & Dry Fit

13) Finished Joint

A Note About Zip Ties Zip ties will leave a mark in the wood. When stripping the bark, I tend to leave some of the green bark on the branch which is what gets marked by the zip tie and which I sand off after, so I do not worry about that. I also like to have a thicker branch than what I want when finished so the part marked will be sanded away anyhow. I just wanted to note this for all, so you know in advance. If you are worried about that then using a cotton rope might be the best but will likely require a second set of hands to tie. Carving, Sanding Now comes the time to do some carving and sanding. The main areas you will need to focus on for carving are on the handle, the part inside the hoop, and the very end of the handle. Carve it any way you like. I prefer to make the handle come to a narrow and flat end. With the branch being narrower crosswise than deep. At this time, you should also sand the entire tamo removing that under bark layer that has now turned a dark brown. Sand it all to the shape you desire and sand down any knot areas to be smooth. You can leave the tamo rustic in shape with lots of gnarly bumps or smooth it out, that is up to you. Go progressively finer in grain on the sanding. I like to begin with the rotary tool to do the “bulk” job and then move to hand sanding with very fine grit. Handle Ideas There are a few handle add-ons I have seen. Using an antler at the end of the handle is one. You can get one from a hunter, a lucky find, or at a pet store as a dog chew! To attach it you will need to cut


the antler and the end of the wood handle in matching diameters. Using a headless bolt glued into both the antler and the wood handle to attach. I have not personally done this but Daniel Galhardo has and he details the process on a blog post on the Tenkara USA site. Another idea that I have done is to add a piece of a different type of wood to the handle. This is a great option if you found a perfect branch, but the handle part was not long enough. To do this you make a flush cut on the tamo handle where you want to attach it. Then match that diameter on the secondary piece of wood and make an opposing flush cut. Drill a hole in both the tamo handle and the secondary piece of wood to accept a dowel or a headless wood screw. Using the Titebond III glue, glue in the dowel or bolt on one side and let dry overnight, then repeat to connect. If using a dowel, you will need a vise to apply pressure during the drying. If you use a wood screw, then twist it on tight to hold tension while it dries. Sand to finish the area and further shape the end of the secondary piece of wood to finish. Rattan Wrapping the Splice (or for decoration) You can buy rattan wrapping material from cane furniture repair places. I like a very thin rattan, something in the 2mm zone wide but a few feet long. I like to wrap the splice zone to add strength there, then sometimes I do the wraps in other parts of the hoop for looks. Before wrapping, soak the rattan cane in water to soften. I do this for an hour or more. Remove it from the water and dry


off excess water with a paper towel. The rattan will have a flat side and a shiny curved side, wrap shiny side up and flat side down. Brush Titebond III wood glue on the area you are going to wrap. Begin wrapping like you would starting thread on a hook for tying a fly. Catch a bit of the rattan end under your wraps to lock it in. Wrap the rattan in touching turns along the hoop as tightly as you can and over the glue. It is a bit messy don’t worry. When you reach the end of where you want the wraps to stop, hold the tension with your thumb and do two loose wraps and then sneak the end of the rattan through those loose wraps back towards the beginning. Pull that loose end through and tight, tightening those loops down on and around the hoop tightly. Get those loops tight but touching and not overlapping, which might take some maneuvering. Cut off excess rattan leaving a little tag (for now). Wipe off the zone with a wet towel to remove excess glue. Let it dry overnight.




When it is dry you can cut that tag off with a razor or box cutter very close. Repeat this where you want as decoration. When you are done with all the wrapping and drying of the glue, sand the area again. The rattan sands down nicely so feel free to smooth it out and especially where that tag was so that area is smooth. The glue helps make the joint and rattan hold better. The rattan naturally shrinks and hardens as it dries. Rattan also takes stain so if you intended to stain as part of your finishing you can stain right onto the rattan. Or as a different look, you could stain the branch first and then add unstained rattan. Alternative wrapping materials are thread or leather or something of your choice. Feel free to experiment! Finishing the Wood You must seal the wood with something to preserve it. You have two options; wood oils like Tung or an exterior varnish. Both work great and add strength to the wood. An oil like Tung oil will need to be reapplied every few years but is very easy to do. Tung oil will darken the wood a tiny bit - more yellows the wood - but not much and leaves it looking very natural. I believe you can add dye or stain to the Tung oil to change the color, but I have not personally done that. If you want to stain the wood, then that is an option. Follow the application instructions on the stain you chose. To finish the tamo with varnish, follow the instructions with the varnish you chose.

Be sure it is exterior grade and can handle water. I apply more coats than the instructions to get a bit of a lacquer effect, but that is up to you. Attaching the Net/Mesh Bag This is difficult to explain in words. Diagrams work great and there are some videos online that show the idea. If you are using a mesh bag that is Japanese in style you will need to put a length of wire into the loops at the opening end of the bag and around the complete opening. You want the wire to overlap inside the loops for a bit which you will later attach the overlap zone near the handle part in the hoop. You need to use a wire that will not tarnish when it has gotten wet. This wire is what you will tie with thread to the hoop. The thread I use is a nylon paracord called “nanocord” which comes in many colors. It is strong, not impacted by water and can be threaded through a big sewing needle (which helps!)

As mentioned, here are some links to resources that can assist the process if you are more of a visual learner. Shimizu Diagram Download: https://tinyurl.com/tamonet Tenkara USA Video: https://youtu.be/f1BLpj72XHo

Tamo Tethers: Via various online sources you can get a Japanese style net leash for you net that will loop right on to the hoop of the tamo. I like to put on the tamo near the handle a ring clip. To that I attach a Gear Keeper which is then attached to a carabiner which I clip on a belt loop. This is up to you and your style. I hope this little “how to” has been helpful and will provide another resource space to those who want to try their hands at making their very own Tamo! Finished Teardrop Style Tamo with Fish-Friendly Net Bag


Artist Profile: Jerry Tanner The Modern Fly


Welcome to my fly fishing themed art series, The Modern Fly This new and growing collection is a perfect fit for me. While I've always enjoyed fishing, I had never had the pleasure of learning the art of fly fishing, until now. Combining my creativity with an activity that I truly enjoy is the best of both worlds. Recently, I discovered Tenkara fly fishing patterns. The art of the flies joined with the art form of the Tenkara fishing method had me mesmerized immediately. The first thing I noticed was the reversed hackle

The Sakasa Kebari


and the precisely minimal design of the patterns—surely for maximum efficiency in the water. Three Tenkara-themed pieces have been created so far, with more to follow. And the photos and stories in Tenkara Angler magazine have been a great source of inspiration. Rendered in a mid-century modern style and inspired by the amazing variety of patterns and colors in fly fishing lures, The Modern Fly originals are limited-edition 8x10” digital vector art prints on archival hot press art paper. Each comes with a signed certificate of authenticity. An optional frame of reclaimed barn wood is available. It comes with a mounted photo of the actual fly pattern that inspired the art—sure to be a fine addition to the home of any fishing enthusiast or art lover.

The Kaga Kebari

The Tenkara


Where did my art series The Modern Fly come from? It came from my search for an art subject I could imagine creating for years to come. I’ve always had a creative drive. What I perhaps lacked was focus. And for me to maintain focus would require something that would relate to my life’s experience. As I wondered what art project might follow my previous series, “Toucan King of the Yucatan” (http://bit.ly/2sdpnVM), I was in my garage where my tools hung on the wall on peg board. And on the peg board were also some random items like mini bungee cords, a California license plate, a Sponge Bob Square Pants Christmas ornament, and a Norwegian fireplace bellows—among other things. Don’t judge me. And hanging in the warm glow of my workbench chandelier (again, don’t judge me), there were two old spinning lures I had found sometime in the past while hiking around a lake or along a stream. And I immediately thought that they would be interesting to photograph. And they would certainly be great to draw. After all, not only were they great objects, they represented a thread that ran

through my life since adolescence, when I was first introduced to the sport of fishing by my big brother. Over the years we fished from the east coast to the west coast; freshwater and saltwater; streams and rivers, ponds and rivers; from the shore and from a boat; in swim trunks and in hip waders. We caught bass (big and small mouth), sunfish, trout, perch, pickerel, suckers, chub minnows, catfish, sea bass, sculpin, rockfish, salmon, surf perch, striped bass, leopard shark, and, holy mackerel, a lot more. I don’t think we ever had a bad day fishing. So, I set to work photographing, then drawing the lures from the peg board. And from that came research into other spinning lures. Spoons. Spinners. Plugs. Rubber worms. But something was missing. Sure, they were great subject matter. Still, I wondered if there could be something else related to fishing that really sparked my interest. Then, somewhere in my explorations I found fly fishing lures. And the rest is history. The colors, patterns, artistry, and endless variety of fly fishing lures had me hooked. And the funny thing was that I had never


actually been fly fishing. I had always been a spin fisherman. So, I knew this would open doors of new experience not only in my art, but also in the recreation of fishing which I had always enjoyed. It was the best of both worlds. Finally, to seal the deal I needed to find a way to lend my style to the art of the patterns. And from that came another thread of my life—the mid-century modern style. After all, the second half of this design movement spanned the fifties and sixties. And those years had led to the moment my brother shared the joy of fishing with me in 1969.


I hope you enjoy my art, especially the Tenkara pieces. Of course, there are more to come. If you would like a particular pattern created for your own, commissions are welcome. Finally, as a way of giving back, a percentage of the sales for The Modern Fly is contributed to American Rivers— protecting wild rivers, repairing damaged waterways, and conserving clean water for people and the environment. You are welcome to visit www.themodernfly.com to learn more about my art.

A Project By Chris Hendriks


Where a picture says more than a thousand words...

Tenkara empowers you as a person and us as a separate nation within fly fishing so much, that words are just not enough...

Therefore this project in the making, a place for tenkara anglers, where they can define their emotions, experiences, special moments, knowledge, and much, much more in pictures with some added explanation, because a picture says more than a thousand words...

Sometimes you are ‘out and about’ as they say, busy doing your regular fishing or your regular guiding and just suddenly out of nowhere, this magic moment happens, and you find yourself in a moment of pure bliss, a moment that turns your ‘ordinary’ fishing day into an extraordinary day. This can be the sun coming through the clouds and the rays of sunlight crawling through the canopy which transform the whole forest and the stream you are fishing into a heavenly place. You stop for a second to absorb it because you know it can be over as quickly as it came… And suddenly you decide to enjoy this moment by just continuing fishing, then this strange, but all so familiar pull comes along, this pull that turns into vibration, and you strike, fish on! No matter how small this fish is, I can promise you that this fish just turned this moment

of bliss, this heavenly feeling into an even more indescribable feeling of incomparable happiness! Another scenario can be the build-up of emotions and anticipations that you feel until you have reached your final destination where you put your feet into the water and make that first cast, the beginning of wonderful things to come during that day. Think of the night before, tying the last few flies to complete your box, ready to conquer all situations you might encounter. Getting your stuff together, putting them in order, ready for the get-go in the morning. You are having difficulties to sleep, because you feel like a kid on Christmas Eve eagerly wanting to unwrap his presents. When you finally do sleep, you have that deep sleep that feels like only 5 minutes


The symbol used in the overall logo is the logo of Tenkara USA, which introduced tenkara outside of Japan. It is their trademark and used here with their permission.

before you wake up at the crack of dawn, ready to have a quick breakfast and you just need to put your stuff, carefully prepared the evening before, in the car. The feeling while you drive, that this is going to be one of those days, one of those days where you are ‘in the zone’ fully focused on catching that one fish and at the same time ready to absorb everything nature has to offer you. You park your car, put your waders on, walking excitedly to the waterside and all stress, excitement and pressure just slides of your shoulders after that one cast. As I said before, ready to absorb everything nature has to offer you…


I can continue like this for a while and a lot of people might recognize themselves in these situations. And yes, during all my years of fishing, fly fishing, and fishing with a tenkara rod, I have seen that there are


more lunatics like me out there. People that love absolutely everything that has something to do with fly fishing. But over and over again we get that same question from people that do not fish at all; what is so fun about fly fishing? It is a legitimate question but we never really find a proper answer to it. There are so many things that add to the overall experience of fishing, and to be honest, most people just don’t or won't understand. It is a bit like the famous quote says; "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau Since tenkara is at such a young age in the world of modern fly fishing (although it existed for centuries) and we still are a little bit of the underdog, I thought it

would be a really cool idea to collect all of our special moments, memories, knowledge, experiences, and emotions into one book that defines us as tenkara anglers. A book to show other people what we love about tenkara, what fascinates us, what defines us, and also makes us a little bit different from the other, non-tenkara fishermen. To show the whole fly fishing world that even though we are not many in numbers, we are growing, having more and more fun as a separate powerful Tenkara Nation within the big world of general fly fishing. Because, yes people, although we call ourselves tenkara anglers we are all fly fishers!


That is why this project is called the Tenkara Nation. It is made and created by a powerful engaged tenkara nation. The most important thing is that when other non-tenkara fishermen open this book, that they, in an instant, can see and read what tenkara is all about and why we love it so much. This book will be more of a photo book, because a picture says more than a thousand words and can literally show people the beauty of tenkara. Everything goes in this project; pictures of scenery, pictures of what defines tenkara for you, pictures of your most memorable experiences, pictures of the activities that you like to do when on a fishing trip to lift up the total experience (canyoning, camping, hiking, foraging, cooking etc...), pictures of your pack, pictures of your rig, pictures of your most emotional moment, pictures of that catch of a lifetime, heck, even send in some poems if that is your thing! And if you think that your picture needs

some explanation, just add it. Sometimes this added explanation gives the picture even more beauty and power. Don’t be shy to send in pictures either, if you want to send in 20 pictures, send them in, if you want to send in 1 or 2, send them in, but also if you want to send in a picture once in a while during the time that I am collecting pictures, please send them in! As of now there is no deadline to this project. Now that you know what my project is about, send in those pictures of your special moments, knowledge, emotions and those things that define tenkara from your personal point of view. I know that we as a powerful tenkara nation love to share, just have a look on Facebook, the different tenkara magazines, the different forums and blogs that are out there and you will see what I mean. A picture says more than a thousand words but unfortunately it doesn’t say it all, so again if you find the need to add some explanation then please do so. I for one am really stoked about this project and I am looking forward to receive your pictures, poems and explanations about those beautiful moments! You can send them in to: hendrikschris@hotmail.com The only thing you need to take in consideration when sending your pictures is that they preferably need to be in a JPEG-format, high resolution and in their original size. While this project is collecting pictures, I will publish some of them on Facebook on a page called ‘Tenkara Nation’.


New Zealand Clueless & Traveling Semi-Rough in a Hire Camper Van Dean Price

Last November a friend and I decided to take a trip to New Zealand’s North Island and have a look around. New Zealand is a very big mountainous country and road travel can be slow going especially in a top heavy hire campervan. We found many rivers to fish in and some to free-camp beside. These were found by following maps and with the help of free a camping guide brochure. After walking a long way beside the wide rocky banks and finally locating fish in pools there was nothing better than finally casting and seeing a large trout turning to eat your fly.


PICTURE PERFECT New Zealand is a photographers dream. Every corner and little road seems to lead to more picture landscapes that will surprise you and have clicking away like a professional. I shot photos through the dirty windscreen of the moving van that had me surprised by the way they had turned out in the circumstances. The rivers are clear and wide, lined with banks made of small rocks that go for miles. River pools are often surrounded by small cliffs sometimes with their own little waterfalls running into them in an open cave like setting. These are often the places that N.Z. fisherman target.

THE PEOPLE Kiwis are super friendly and very laid back not taking things too seriously. Kiwi the name for New Zealanders and is also the name for the native prehistoric bird. Don’t expect too much in the way of descriptive information from locals though unless you are lucky enough to find a true expert. Usually you will get the “Oh yeh bro the fishin is really good that way,” pointing to the distance or being handed a rough map with some circles around the rumored hot spots. We didn’t realize that you need a fishing license for the Taupo region and another for the rest of N.Z. The fishing map sourced from the information centre of the Taupo region has 7 different fishing seasons related to many different waters in one region. This was very confusing to say the least.


BRIEFLY ABOUT THE FISHING Fishing New Zealand for the first time was a real education, so much more different than reading about it in a magazine or

watching videos. Every river and region can be very different to the next. Some rivers that hold fish hardly see fishermen and other areas such as Tongariro may have many fisherman. A lot of fly fishermen in New Zealand from what I observed in my 2 week stay seem to follow the same style of fishing with 2 nymphs under a large indicator cast into deep pools. First look at the Tongariro River at Turangi we saw many fly fisherman scattered along every pool all using the double nymph method. Vested fisherman walked the streets back and forth between the fishing lodges that made me want to leave the area immediately. This side of fly fishing with the lodges and rich folk gives the sport a perception of exclusiveness that I never want to be a part of. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and hit the open wilderness and fish the way I want to fish without being observed by some ‘expert’ from the river bank.



TENKARA OPTIONS Don’t believe that there isn’t a place for tenkara in N.Z. A standard tenkara rod won’t be much use unless you want to play games such as running the banks and throwing your rod in the river but a very long strong tenkara or a keiryu rod will win battles and land fish as quick as other styles. I think "extremetenkara" is a word one can use for chasing N.Z. trout with tenkara. It’s easy to find rivers and water to yourself so you can relax and focus on tenkara style fishing without being scrutinized. We went completely clueless for two weeks road tripping around the North Island and found lonely rivers with fish inland from the East coast south of Gisborne and on the West coast around Taranaki. Avoid second hand water. If there is a car parked nearby and the footprints are headed in one direction up river just go the other way. Fisherman fighting large fish at each pool will shut those parts of the river down for the rest of the day.


By regulation fixed line fishing is illegal in N.Z. as fly fishing is defined as having a reel. When my rods were sighted by rangers while accidentally fishing in a closed area they didn’t say anything about them and just wanted me to move on. The areas to fish are so vast in most regions and are not all just fly fishing zones. Using the fixed line method will be overlooked as long as you can land the fish without over fighting them. If it became an issue one could always get the big nymph rod out and still fish the tenkara method anyway. I caught my biggest trout ever with my 17 foot rod casting a lightly weighted nymph with a level line cast into a fast shallow run, I saw the fish turn and bam I was on. It ran fast with the current and I took a few steps to release the tension a bit and just let the rod do its thing and beached the fish about 30 feet away from me. I forgot my camera as I ran over to quickly release the fish so I guess I will have to go back and catch another trophy in the near future for my proof archives. My favourite memory of fishing N.Z. by far is having huge trout

jump clear of the water right in front of me, truly magical. LAKES ARE GOOD FOR A BREAK Fishing some of the small lakes in N.Z. is a great way to give your body a break from all the walking along the big rivers. Fishing with normal fly gear will give you more distance when fishing a lake although there are sometimes plenty of fish cruising near the banks to sight cast too, using tenkara. BIG TOURISM INDUSTRY New Zealand has many things to do and


see besides fish. Tourism innovation such as turning old unused military planes and boats into motels, filling large warehouses full of original condition vintage English cars or creating a small rail network into the rain forest from an old pottery mill are just a few of the things locals are doing to capitalize on the huge numbers of tourists doing road trips around both islands. We tried our hand at salt water fly fishing and weren’t too successful. I would definitely recommend using one of the guided services to chase kingfish, snapper and kahawai if salt swoffing is your thing especially when you’re on limited time.


Angling Instinct Jim Wright

One view of a strange topic - Angling and Instinct I claim no special knowledge within the realm of scientific phenomenon. In fact, I failed biology. I only know what I have learned reading books by my heroes, in observing the efforts of others, and living my own experiences while catching headwaters trout. What works for me and what doesn't. Included in that list would be:


1. How to skip school to attend an early Mayfly hatch

2. What I can only call intuition or instinct

Many authors have addressed this subject over the centuries. Ray Bergman walked me through my own first "Revelation" upon hearing it described for the first time. Ray was very traditional in both his experience and authorship, but the message came through loud and clear to my young ears. Here is an excerpt from that early lesson: "I learned to keep my nerves at hair-trigger tension so that I reacted instantaneously... Every shadow or flash was treated as a striking fish." And, "It was subtle fishing and developed intuitive reactions to a remarkable extent. Before long I was seeing things that happened under water." And, "At the same time I found that I had to be in the proper mood to have success..." Finally, "it takes only a few weeks to lose that fine sense of perception..." - Trout; Ray Bergman, 1938.


Ray Bergman

My father took me fishing at a very tender age. I caught my first sucker in the tiny creek that ran through a wooded lot, in my quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of town. It gurgled behind my house not more than a 5-minute walk for a 4-yearold with a hook and a bobber. We would sprinkle the lawn before bed and stalk our prey by the light of a filtered flashlight. We'd pick our cans full of night-crawlers and put them safely to bed under some moist soil for the night. If it was a quiet night, and if I listened carefully, I could hear the stream singing its siren song as I lay in bed dreaming of tomorrow morning. I of course, being twelve at the time, must admit to being just a bit impressed by these gentleman and lady author/anglers speaking about instinctive angling in this way. As time passed I spent many slack times under a hemlock tree, in deep contemplation of just such ideas that Ray and others were telling me! My own inspiration was taken from the writings of: Ray Bergman of course,

followed by James Leisenring. Mr. Leisenring (I just wanted to type it twice) was an incredible inspiration to me, as was Art Flick's writing, teaching me to tie flies. And surely one of the most influential at the time. They were perfect for me, but it wasn't long before I uncovered evidence of more American and British anglers speaking in the same terms. There was; A.J. McClane, Joe Brooks, Joseph Bates, Vernon Hidy, Charlie Fox and Vincent Marinaro. And more recently Hughes, Nemes and Poul Jorgensen.


Now my father had seen me casting on the lower reaches of an unnamed favorite stream, and I think that he realized that if I was ever able to save any cash for college after wasting every cent on flies from the discount store, he would need to act. I didn't get much college, but I did learn to tie flies and catch trout. A great many "writers of anglers" and "angler writers" were telling me the same thing. I do believe that at one point the local librarian, she whom I had borrowed books from for many years, kind woman that she was, might just throw me out of the library. Or throw a book at me. The later I usually regarded as the preferable should it come down to it. That depending of course, upon the size of said missile or it's topic. All in my desperate attempts to discover what this strange power over fish might be. So finally, let me get to my point before I forget it. If I go out on the stream and feel good about the day. If I am really focused on the

task at hand, paying attention with almost laser like intensity to my line, my kebari if visible, and at least in the spot that I believe it to be, I noticed tiny changes in light and movement, in the water lanes and pockets in front of me. And it made all the difference in the world. And with practice I began to sense something more. It's almost like you can sense the fish attacking your kebari. And when winter ends and the new season rolls around it takes some time to warm up those instincts again. On the other hand everyone has an off day, and it humbles us. What we know is that "sometimes ya just have a bad day". But I could see that it was my instinct that suffered as well. And that intrigued me. A lot of you guys know exactly what I'm talking about. To me it's similar to the instincts of common predatory species of which we are naturally one. I don't think there is anything hocus pocus about it at all. To me it's just natural human behavior. This force appears to be operating upon some unknown principal of nature. But a principal that we are all familiar with. We just don't expect to find it in ourselves. Or is it that we have just lost it through the process of domestication? At any rate, I could see that I was no different than any common fish, otter or wolf, except that my instincts needed further attention. Is any of this important to catching fish? No, if you are content with your current success. But if you are like me and always seeking to improve your angling skills, paying attention to those little details often pays big dividends.



Cane Pole Fixed Line Fly Fishing & Kids Jack Harford

My two grandsons enjoy sitting on my lap and tying a fly or two with me. That is fun for all of us. The other day the older one, the 4 and a half one, asks Grandpa, “when can we go fishing?” Since then I began looking for an opportunity and a plan to make that happen. Of course, a full-fledged fly rod and reel are pretty much out of the question for a 3 and 4.5 year old. Like many of you, my first experiences of fishing consisted of a cane pole, green braided line, a hook, bobber, and some worms dug up in the back yard. It was a lot of fun and we landed some fish. Well, Gander Mountain was going out of business and had some $4 two-piece cane poles on sale at half price and not being


one to pass up on a bargain, two of them ended up in the back of the car. A second factor was that I have been doing quite a bit of fixed line, tenkara fly fishing lately and could see how that would be a good way to get the boys started in fly fishing. However, there was an uneasy feeling in my gut about the boys handling the new Iwana rod and I wondered if those cane poles might work as a viable alternative. The two-piece bamboo poles, when put together came out to about nine feet in total length. So... to make them into a two piece bamboo fixed line rod, a six foot piece of the running line from the back end


of an old 5 weight line was attached to a makeshift lillian at the end of the cane pole. Then a 3 to 4 foot piece of 3x monofilament attached to the line with a nail knot as the leader/tippet and small foam fly tied to the tippet. The little cane pole cast a line surprisingly well, easily propelling the fly to 15 or 20 feet. The pole was a bit heavy for the boys. After cutting a foot or so from the butt end, it was a little more user-friendly. A circle of bungee cords made a nice twofoot diameter target for the boys to practice casting with a yarn indicator tied on the end. The 4.5 year old took right too it. The 3 year old... not so much. After a bit of practice, the boys and I, together with Grandma walked to the pond at the condominiums behind the house to try out the cane pole fly rods on the water. The first couple of casts nothing

happened, but then a few nibbles shook the fly. After a bit, a small bluegill gobbled up the fly and the older boy pulled it in. The fish was examined thoroughly by both boys, a few pictures taken, and then the little gill released back into the pond. Two more fish were landed on the smaller boy’s pole which prompted his brother to say, “I want to fish in that spot,” or something like that. Soon, one of them said “I’m hungry” and that ended the fishing for the day. We all headed back to the house for dinner with big smiles and sparkling eyes. This was a very inexpensive introduction into the world of fly fishing for two young boys. We are looking forward to more adventures and more developed fishing gear in the future. Fishing should be fun... and this day it truly was.


Friends of Tenkara Angler











Contributors & Credits This issue of Tenkara Angler Magazine was made possible by the extremely generous contributions of the following members of the tenkara community. Danièle Beaulieu

Adam Wilner

Started fly fishing in 2000 and tenkara in 2014. She fishes rivers all across Canada & New England. and started a business selling Tenkara rods and accessories called Tenkara Canada.net.

has spent the last 30 years pursuing his passion for fly fishing. In the last few years tenkara & keiryu rods have replaced his other rods as their advantages have become glaringly apparent.

Chris Hendriks

Adam Klagsbrun

A Tenkara USA & EFFA certified guide, Chris has been a advocate for tenkara in Europe for several years, founding the European Tenkara Convention in 2012. tenkara-norway.com

Anthony Naples

Adam Klagsbrun is an avid lightweight backpacker recently re-located to Colorado. He authors a blog named "Of Rock & Riffle" rockandriffle.blogspot.com

Robb Chunco

Based in Western Pennsylvania, Anthony has been a voice in the tenkara community since 2009. He is the proprietor of Three Rivers Tenkara, US seller of Oni, Taunki, & Tenkara Times rods.

Robb Chunco is a husband, a father, and pretty passionate about tying flies of all kinds. If you'd like to see his work, you can check it out at Creekside Kebari Co.

Jim Wright

Bart Lombardo

Owner of TenkaraFlyShop.com, Jim Wright has pursued trout, studied stream entomology and tied trout flies since 1967 and retired his Western fly gear, taking up Tenkara in 2012.

Jason Sparks

is the founder of "Appalachian Tenkara Anglers," a leading online tenkara community, as well as the Tenkara Jam, the largest multi-vendor tenkara gathering in the United States.

Isaac Tait

Originally from Los Angeles, Isaac now chases Amago, Iwana, Yamame, and his year-old son in Japan. When he is indoors, he describes what he has experienced at FallfishTenkara.com.


is an early adopter of tenkara and fishes for both cold and warm water species in his home state of New Jersey. He is the author of the blogs The Jersey Angler and Panfish on the Fly.

Stephen Myers

is an environmental scientist/writer and fishing guide currently living in Colorado. He has been practicing tenkara since 2014 and operates a fly tying company, 303 Flyworks.

Bill Holleran

has a background in engineering and loves fly fishing & the outdoors. One of the co-owners of Red Brook Tenkara, his motto is "no reel, no problems!"

Sam Larson

Sam Larson lives, fishes, and writes in Colorado’s Front Range. In addition to Tenkara Angler, he is a co-founder and contributing author at Blue Lines (www.bluelinesfly.com).

Jerry Tanner

Rob Lepczyk

Rob is an endorsed guide, formerly of Great Feathers Fly Shop, now residing in Colorado. Rob has a great passion for tenkara, backcountry living, and ridding the West of all brook trout.

Dean Price

Jerry is the graphic designer and visionary behind The Modern Fly, an online gallery that brings a retro feel to fishing flies. 2% of each sale generously goes to American Rivers.org.

Dean Price is an Australian tenkara and keiryu rod fly fishermen who enjoys travel, photography, riding old motorcycles and blogging. Contact; tenkaraflyman773@gmail.com

Melissa Alcorn

Rob Gonzalez

Based in Colorado Melissa and her husband Stephen spend all their spare time playing outdoors. Drawn to tenkara as backpackers, they have stayed due to its simplicity and beauty. Follow her adventures at TenkaraChick.com.

Rob Gonzalez is an avid fly tyer and tenkara angler from the central Texas Hill Country. For the past few years, he's been at the forefront of promoting Tenkara statewide. Join him at www.Facebook.com/groups/TenkaraTexas

Adam Rieger

John-Paul Povilaitis

works for a wine/sake importer and distributor in NY/NJ. If you are fishing in the NYC area and see a guy in business casual dress with a bluetooth headset on eating a sandwich and fishing... please say hello.

Jack Harford

is the editor of the Armchair Angler, a monthly newsletter of the Indianapolis Fly Casters. He began fly fishing as therapy and spiritual practice of engagement with nature. Jack has tied flies at the Sowbug Roundup and several other shows. He is enjoying the philosophy and lessons learned from Tenkara.

Resides in South Central Pennsylvania where he enjoys spending time with family and friends, & sharing beers and stories around a campfire. If he's not at a local spring creek, he's probably in the woods snagging trees.

Jay Johnson

is a backpacking and Genryu addict, as well as an aspiring meme-lord. You can find him at the Headwaters Facebook group.

Nick Pavlovski

started tenkara fishing in February 2017. He uploads videos of some of his trips over at his YouTube channel: Wombats & Wasabi



Jason Sparks at 2017 Tenkara Jam Photo: Michael Agneta



News & Notes From Around Social Media Discover Tenkara has published an excellent print book on kebari - so much great info in this wonderful resource...

Dragontail Tenkara just released a new zoom rod called the Hydra zx390, introductory priced at $99.99... A new Facebook group for "Tenkara Women" has been launched. Will be great to follow their on water exploits...

The Tenkara Bug Out (Oregon) has been announced for July 6-8, 2018. Never too early to look into travel... An interesting interview was recently posted to Tenkara-Fisher.com with Japanese angler Toshiro Todoroki...

If you're reading this before Jan. 15th, there's still time to enter the ATA Winter Kebari / Fly Swap...


Photo: Isaac Tait

Winter 2017-18

Profile for Tenkara Angler

Tenkara Angler Winter 2017-18  

Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...

Tenkara Angler Winter 2017-18  

Tenkara Angler Magazine chronicles the tenkara lifestyle through entries about community, destination, tactics, gear, and creative essays. A...